Good sleep is vital

MANY people have trouble sleeping so it is critical that you know where to turn to for help.

The COVID-19 pandemic may be adding to the problems of people who have trouble sleeping. A US study of college students, reported by the Sleep Foundation, found long-term decreases in sleep quality which were attributed to the increased stress and concern over COVID-19 cases and the loss of social interaction.

So important is sleep that the Federal Government held an inquiry into it. The report, Bedtime Readings: Inquiry into Sleep Health Awareness in Australia, states that “Sleep is a fundamental human need and, along with nutrition and physical exercise, it is one of the three pillars of good health”.

We have known the importance of sleep for decades yet for many reasons, sleep health has not received the attention it deserves within our community and in the health programs run by state and federal governments. In part, this is because there are still many who think that it’s a sign of ‘toughness’ and a badge of honour to be able to get by on less sleep. The reality is that such an approach does harm – in some cases with very serious consequences. Getting the right amount of sleep, and quality sleep, is important and the provision of sleep apnoea and other sleep services through community pharmacies across Australia is a growing area for the sector which is benefitting patients, the profession and the community at large.

As well as the immediate effects of sleepiness and fatigue, sleep disorders may also contribute to other health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, mental health and cardiovascular disease. According to the report inadequate sleep was estimated to have contributed to 3,017 deaths in Australia.

Research by the Sleep Health Foundation has found over a third of adults either sleep poorly or not long enough most nights, leaving them to face the new day with fatigue, irritability, and other side effects of sleep deprivation.

The move by community pharmacies to provide sleep services has been widely accepted by patients.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Professor Trent Twomey, said sleep services were a major professional service provided by many community pharmacies.

“Pharmacists often undertake special training to be able to provide sleep services,” he said. “Our customers find that because pharmacies are conveniently located and easy to access, they can raise issues such as sleeping difficulties without the need to make an appointment to see a GP.”