Tired of being tired? What to do if you’re not getting enough sleep

Westmead Hospital Sleep Clinic scientific officer Steve Mai.

When the day’s to-do list is too long many people end up sacrificing sleep to get more done.

But how much can we miss before sleeplessness takes its toll?

Today the world is celebrating World Sleep Day, dedicated to raising awareness for sleeping disorders as well as celebrating the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Westmead Hospital sleep specialist Dr Jin Gun Cho said sleep not only helps our bodies, but our minds too.

“The amount of sleep needed per person varies, but in general we recommend having eight hours each night,” Dr Cho said.

“Sleep deprivation means you aren’t getting the adequate amount of sleep that you require for your body to function properly.

“People who have less sleep tend to have a greatly reduced mental function, meaning they are more prone to accidents and making mistakes.”

Dr Cho said the small things can make a big difference, and offered these tips for a better night’s sleep:

  • Have a regular bed time and a regular wake time
  • Avoid alcohol late at night
  • Exercise during the day
  • Avoid screens late at night and in bed (including Netflix, emails and social media)

Dr Cho works in the Westmead Hospital Sleep Clinic, which helps patients with conditions including sleep disorder breathing, obstructive sleep apnoea, insomnia and excessive sleepiness.

But if you struggle to fall asleep at night, it may not be a medical condition robbing you of those precious z’s.

Dr Cho said busier lifestyles and modern technology – especially smartphones – are to blame for increasing rates of sleep deprivation.

“The younger generation in particular are getting less sleep. It’s hard for a lot of people, not only the millennials, but try and avoid using technology and smart phones late at night,” he said.

Dr Cho said if you are worried about your sleep pattern, seeing a GP is the best place to start.

For more information about the Westmead Hospital Sleep Clinic, call (02) 8890 6797.