Not getting enough sleep? There’s a nap for that.
Smartphones have revolutionised the world in which we live, facilitating instant communication across oceans and continents or merely from the kitchen to upstairs. While this love affair with convenience is inevitably set to continue, there seems to be plenty of love lost for the hours without such stimulation and their importance in maintaining healthy brain function. Research has shown, consistent quality sleep spanning 7 – 9 hours every night, is not only crucial for a strong memory and maintaining healthy cognitive function; it forms a fundamental aspect of longevity. Yet global research into smart phone use and sleep conducted by the University of Michigan showed middle aged individuals, especially men are poor sleepers, significantly affecting work performance and well-being; to such an extent that researchers labelled the current trends as part of a ‘global sleep crisis’. Closer to home, the 2016 National sleep survey conducted by The Sleep Health Foundation, showed Australians are significantly sleep deprived, with 33 – 45% of the adult population experiencing poor quality or inadequate duration of sleep; resulting in excessive fatigue, irritability and vulnerability to poor decision making. So, if sleep is so crucial and most of us likely aren’t getting enough, what is good sleep and how do we get it? Good sleep refers to a series of well-timed brain activity, cycling from light to deeper phases throughout this 7 -9 hours. Research suggests the largest improvements to sleep quality and quantity require environmental and behavioural changes to the night time routine including; ensuring the bedroom is dark and quiet, removing all electronic devices, installing blue light filter apps on smart phones and computers. For people with phase sleep disorder (ie. just can’t get to sleep but still need 9-10 hours of sleep) melatonin can be helpful. Other therapies such as neurofeedback can also be used to regulate the brain waves involved in sleep, and this can improve the ability to fall asleep, sleep quality as well as night time waking. Unlike medication, neurofeedback is a non–invasive and highly effective way of training your own brain to relax and move into rejuvenation mode. Combined with good sleep hygiene, neurofeedback has been shown to significantly increase quality and duration of sleep resulting in better short and long-term memory, alertness, and emotional stability. To find the best solution to improve your sleep we recommend you see a sleep specialist. You can contact your local GP for referral. At the Sydney Cognitive Development Centre, we have a sleep expert, Carla Haroutonian, who is currently completely her PhD into sleep research and the best treatments available. Come meet with Carla and find out the best ways to improve your sleep. Feel free to contact us for more information and book an initial consultation with Carla to determine if your sleep is keeping you on track to a happier, healthier, and longer life. References: Adams, R. J., Appleton, S. L., Taylor, A. W., Gill, T. K., Lang, C., McEvoy, R. D., & Antic, N. A. (2017). Sleep health of Australian adults in 2016: results of the 2016 Sleep Health Foundation national survey. Sleep health, 3(1), 35-42. Walch, O. J., Cochran, A., & Forger, D. B. (2016). A global quantification of “normal” sleep schedules using smartphone data. Science advances, 2(5), e1501705.