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About sleep

Sleep is a natural state of rest that our bodies and brains need every night.


Sleep is important because it helps us in many ways:


  • Rest and recovery: Sleep allows our body and mind to rest and heal from the day's activities. 

  • Memory and learning: While we sleep, our brain helps us remember and learn new things. 

  • Clear thinking: Sleep helps us think clearly and solve problems better. 

  • Feeling good: When we get enough sleep, we feel happier and less grumpy. 

  • Staying healthy: Sleep keeps our body healthy and lowers the chances of getting sick or overweight. 

  • Growing up: Sleep is especially important for children as it helps them grow and develop properly. 

How common are sleep problems?

Problems getting enough sleep are very common among Australians.


Many of us struggle to get enough, regular sleep. For example: 

  • 30% of people report that they have trouble falling asleep. 

  • 40% of people feel they wake a lot during the night, and most of these people say they struggle to fall back to sleep.  

  • Only 50% of of us feel like we get enough sleep each night. 

What are some common sleep problems?

There are also a range of sleep disorders that can affect people of all ages and backgrounds.


Some examples of common sleep problems are:  

  • Insomnia: Insomnia involves difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing non-restorative sleep. It is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting around 10-30% of adults. 

  • Sleep Apnoea: Sleep apnoea is characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, often due to blocked airways. It is estimated to affect approximately 3-7% of adults, with older adults and people who are overweight being at greater risk.  

  • Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): RLS is a condition where individuals feel an irresistible urge to move their legs, usually accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. It is estimated to affect around 5-10% of the population, with higher rates in older adults. 

  • Circadian Rhythm Disorders: Circadian rhythm disorders involve disruptions in the body's internal sleep-wake cycle, leading to difficulties with sleep timing. These disorders can affect people who work night shifts or experience jet lag after traveling across time zones. 

What are the impacts of Sleep Problems? 

Poor sleep and sleep disorders can have a significant impact on people’s overall health and wellbeing, including: 

  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue: Sleep disorders can result in daytime sleepiness and fatigue. This can reduce alertness and decrease productivity in daily activities, work, and school. 

  • Mental health difficulties: Sleep disorders are closely linked to mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Disrupted sleep patterns can also worsen existing mental health problems.  

  • Cognitive functioning: Sleep problems can also affect processes such as attention, concentration, memory, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities.  

  • Physical Health: Sleep problems can also influence many aspects of our physical health, including our cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and immune functioning.  

What are the treatments for sleep disorders?

The good news is that many sleep disorders are treatable. The treatments for sleep disorders depend on the specific sleep issue and its underlying causes. But, here are some common approaches: 

  • Lifestyle and behavioral modifications: Making changes to sleep habits and daily routines can often improve sleep. This may include practicing good sleep hygiene (establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, avoiding stimulating activities before bed), maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, reducing or avoiding caffeine and alcohol, and managing stress levels. 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): CBT-I is an effective therapy for treating insomnia. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to sleep difficulties.  

  • Light Therapy: Light therapy involves exposure to specific wavelengths of light to regulate the body's internal sleep-wake cycle. It can be beneficial for individuals with circadian rhythm disorders or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

  • Medications: In some cases, doctors may prescribe sleep medications to help manage sleep problems. These medications should be used under medical supervision and as a short-term solution. Common sleep medications include sedatives, hypnotics, and medications for specific sleep disorders like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome. 

  • For people who struggle with sleep apnoea, there are a variety of treatment options. This includes Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy, which involves wearing a mask that delivers a constant flow of air pressure to keep the airways open during sleep. Oral appliances can also be used for sleep apnoea or snoring, which help to keep the airway open.  

It's important to consult with a healthcare professional or sleep specialist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment recommendation. They can assess specific sleep problems, determine the underlying causes, and develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs.  

For further information about treatment options and assistance, you can: 

  1. Talk to your General Practitioner and seek a referral to a specialist sleep clinic.T

  2. The Sleep Course at the eCentreClinic is designed to help people who mostly struggle with insomnia symptoms (e.g., trouble falling asleep or trouble with waking during the night). You can find out more here.  

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