Get some ZZZs to help your health


This World Sleep Day (13 March) NT Health wants to help Territorians get a good night’s sleep and learn about the importance of some shuteye for better health.

Royal Darwin Hospital Senior Respiratory and Sleep Specialist, Dr Garg Himanshu, said a good night’s sleep was fundamental to everyday functioning.

He said there were many causes of sleep problems. For example, sleep patterns can change as people age, with sleep becoming lighter and people waking more frequently during the night.

“Too much screen time before bed can adversely affect sleep patterns. It is vital young people get a good night’s sleep. So they must minimise screen time before bed.

“Stress can also affect sleep. So if stress is a problem, talk with your doctor, family or friends.

“If you are having trouble sleeping, keep a sleep diary for two weeks to help identify why you can’t sleep.”

People suffering from a sleep disorder, like sleep apnoea, should talk to their GP.

Things to avoid for a better night’s sleep:

  • don’t exercise just before going to bed.
  • don’t work just before going to bed, watch television or discuss problems in bed.
  • don’t nap in the middle of the day. If you do, keep it to 20 minutes and before 3pm.
  • don’t have heavy meals, alcohol or caffeine two hours before bedtime.
  • don’t go to bed unless you feel tired.
  • don’t stay in bed for more than 20 minutes if you are awake. Get up and move to another room and do something relaxing.
  • don’t smoke. Smokers can have more trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. Quitting cigarettes will help with many health problems.

Things to help sleep:

  • have a good bedtime ritual such as listening to relaxing music
  • make the bed comfortable and use comfortable pillows
  • have a warm bath or shower before bedtime
  • keep the bedroom cool, keep noises out and keep the light low
  • go to bed at the same time each night.
  • get up at the same time in the morning. This will help to train your body clock.
  • try relaxation techniques.

“While good sleep habits take time, you should keep practicing these tips to get the most from your sleep,” Dr Himanshu said.

For further information or advice on sleep problems, contact the Chronic Disease Coordination unit on 89441386 or 89448059.

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