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Thoracic Medicine

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Sleep Medicine

Latest News

New research confirms that sleep disturbances are linked to pain and depression, but not disability, among patients with osteoarthritis (OA).  Results from a new study found that poor sleep increases depression and disability, but does not worsen pain over time.

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Older women with disordered breathing during sleep were found to be at greater risk of decline in the ability to perform daily activities, such as grocery shopping and meal preparation, according to a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California, San Francisco.

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People with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea may have an intrinsic inability to burn high amounts of oxygen during strenuous aerobic exercise, according to a new study led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

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This webinar will be a clinical presentation in assessing a child who presents with snoring. Snoring is a very common presentation in childhood with some studies suggesting that up to 30% of children will snore at some point in their life. Within those that snore, there will be some who have obstructive sleep apnoea.

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Sleep apnoea may make it hard for you to remember simple things, such as where you parked your car or left your house keys, a small study suggests.

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Researchers believe that disrupted circadian clocks are the reason that shift workers experience higher incidences of type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer. The body's primary circadian clock, which regulates sleep and eating, is in the brain. But other body tissues also have circadian clocks, including the liver, which regulates blood glucose levels.

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Insomnia

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Does this affect your daily life?

Insomnia affects many different people. Sometimes people experience insomnia due to work or relationship stress, a noisy neighbour or temporary pain. This is not something of concern, however when insomnia lasts beyond these temporary causes, it is time to investigate the problem a little further.

What is insomnia?

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Does this affect your daily life?

Insomnia is the inability to initiate or maintain sleep and is the most commonly reported sleep disorder in the western world. Approximately one third of people will suffer from insomnia at one stage of their life.

The word insomnia is derived from the greek ‘in’ meaning absence and ‘somno’ meaning sleep.

People suffering from insomnia commonly report:

  • Trouble falling asleep, which is called Sleep Onset Insomnia, or
  • Trouble staying asleep, called Sleep Maintenance Insomnia

Causes of Insomnia

All of these factors below can have a negative impact on your sleep and be a cause for insomnia.

Psychological Causes

Anxiety

Feeling a heightened sense of worry, tension, fear, uncertainty, apprehension and helplessness.

Stress

How well you cope with any emotional, social, economic, physical or other factors.

Depression

Feelings of despair, sadness and discouragement.

Environmental or Temporary Causes

Adjustment Sleep Disorder

This is when reaction to a life change or stress is causing sleeplessness. It is commonly referred to as ‘tossing and turning’.

Other temporary factors:

  • Jet Lag
  • Shift work
  • Medication side-effects
  • Overuse of Caffeine or Alcohol
  • Excessive noise, extreme temperatures or a change in surroundings.

Remember… insomnia can be an indication of an undiagnosed medical or psychological condition. If insomnia persists for more than a few weeks, ask your GP for a referral for a diagnostic sleep study.

Physical Causes

Medical conditions

Conditions such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism, and Parkinson's disease can all affect your sleep quality.

Hormone Changes in Women

Premenstrual syndrome, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can all be causes of insomnia.

Decreased Melatonin

Melatonin is the hormone that helps control your sleep and it decreases as a person ages. By age 60, the body produces minimal melatonin and therefore people experience poorer sleep as they age.

Pain

Pain and discomfort from an injury or illness can often interfere with sleep.

Genetics

It has been recorded that problems sleeping do tend to run in the family, however we still are yet to find out why.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea where you temporarily stop breathing during sleep or periodic arm and leg movements can often be the root of insomnia.

Treatments for Insomnia

Treatment for insomnia varies greatly as it needs to refer to the cause of insomnia. Insomnia can be classed as primary or secondary.

If insomnia is the root condition, it is called primary insomnia and there are various methods of treatment:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • exercise plan
  • diet plan
  • behavioral modification
  • environmental modification
  • sleep restriction therapy

Insomnia caused by another unrelated condition is called secondary insomnia and can usually be managed by treating the other condition.

Long term medication is not recommended for the treatment of insomnia

Sleep Diaries

An easy and effective way for to identify problems with your sleep pattern is by keeping a sleep diary.

A sleep diary is filled out every night and every morning, and includes things such as your bed time, your rising time, meal times, snack times, exercise times, medications, nap periods and level of tiredness.

All these details are looked at closely by the sleep scientists and physicians to identify potential causes for your insomnia

Download your sleep diary.

Tips On How to Sleep Well...

There are some general guidelines that help promote good sleep.

  1. Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
  2. If you are unable to fall asleep after about 20 minute, get out of bed. Leave your bedroom and do something relaxing. Come back to bed only when you are sleepy.
  3. Only use your bed for sleep, sex and to recover from illness.
  4. Wake up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays.
  5. If you have trouble sleeping at night, avoid napping during the daytime. If you need to take a nap, make it less than one hour and take it before 3pm.
  6. Begin rituals to help you relax before bedtime, such as taking a warm bath or reading for a few minutes.
  7. Exercise on a regular basis, but do it earlier in the day.
  8. Maintain a regular daily schedule to keep your brain’s internal clock running smoothly.
  9. Eat a light snack before bedtime, but avoid a big meal.
  10. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes late in the day.
  11. Set aside time during the day to get all of your worries out of your system.
  12. Avoid sleeping pills or use them cautiously under the supervision of a doctor.
  13. Never drink alcohol while taking sleeping pills or other medications.
  14. Talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist if you have an ongoing problem related to your sleep.
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