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Why you need to take sleep seriously

How can a bad night's sleep impact your health?

Woman sleeping on a kitchen table with coffee in hand

Recent Medibank researchshows that Australians are struggling to get a good night’s rest – with almost two million Aussies affected by sleeping disorders or sleep apnoea in the past year.

The data also shows the number of admissions for sleep studies2  has increased significantly, up more than 52 per cent since 20103.

Sleep and your overall health

While most of us have experienced the immediate effects of a bad night’s sleep—such as fatigue, bad mood, or lack of focus—it appears poor sleep can also have a far more serious impact on your health.

According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, research has revealed that people who consistently fail to get enough sleep are at an increased risk of chronic disease.

They report that a lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and that these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy.

Medibank Medical Adviser, Dr Yohan Nathan says sleep is important for our overall health.

“Research shows that sleep loss and sleep disorders, can have a serious impact on our overall health, brain and body function.”

“It’s important to that we all take sleep seriously and aim to consistently get enough sleep every night. Not only will you feel better, but you can also help prevent future illnesses.”

Tips for a better night’s sleep

  • Create an optimal sleeping environment. Adjust the room temperature to keep your body at a comfortable coolness so it will not disrupt your sleep. Sleeping in total darkness helps you fall asleep faster.
  • Exercise regularly. Getting enough exercise daily will help develop a better night’s rest, making you fall asleep quickly with a deeper sleeping pattern.
    Switch off all electronic devices before bed. Using devices such as smart phones and iPads before bed can disrupt your sleep cycle. Put everything aside at least two hours before bed to get a restful sleep, including watching TV in bed.
  • Reduce caffeine intake during the day and drink more water. Excessive caffeine intake might disrupt your sleep. Try and limit the intake to one or two cups per day, as caffeine shortens the phases of the sleep cycle. Instead, opt for water, as being hydrated will combat your thirst reflex at night.
  • Meditate or relax. Meditation helps with problems of falling asleep by calming the mind. Practicing meditation during the day will help lower your stress levels, which will help you to fall asleep faster at night. Or try to relax by taking a bath, reading a book or listening to music.
  • Keep to a regular time. Getting into bed at a set time helps regulate the body’s day / night rhythm.

If suspect you have a sleep disorder, or have any questions about your sleep habits, talk to your GP.

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