Chasing sleep: How to get a better night's rest

Chasing sleep: How to get a better night's rest

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While sleep issues affect all ages, they can increase with age, because our bodies tend to make less of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, causing changes in our circadian rhythm - our natural body clock. But there is help available.

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This is sponsored content for Aspen Australia.

Ask people what they would like more of in life and very often the answer will be "sleep".

Sleep is an important part of life, supporting our overall health and wellbeing. However, sleep experts warn us that four out of ten Australians are getting inadequate sleep.

While sleep issues affect all ages, they can increase with age. This is because as we get older, our bodies tend to make less of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, causing changes in our circadian rhythm - our natural body clock.

"Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or having sleep that is not refreshing becomes more common as people age and their natural supply of melatonin depletes," said John Bell, Pharmacist Practitioner, teacher at the Graduate School of Health UTS, chair of the Australian Self-Care Alliance, and former national president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

The good news is help is available to help improve your sleep, and quality of life.

Improve your sleep hygiene  

Many sleeping problems are caused by habits we've developed over the years. Identifying these and replacing them with healthier habits can help improve your sleep.

You might have heard the term 'sleep hygiene'. This refers to the group of good sleep habits that can help you achieve a quality night's rest.

As we get older, it becomes more important to pay attention to our sleep hygiene and the daily behaviours that can enhance or hinder our ability to sleep well.

Good habits include:

  • Following your body clock. Try to go to bed at a similar time every night and get up at the same time each day. However, don't ignore when you're tired or force yourself to go to bed if you're not sleepy.
  • Making sure your bedroom feels peaceful and comfortable.
  • Avoiding the consumption of anything that may impact your sleep, including caffeine and alcohol, or smoking cigarettes, too close to bed time.
  • Implementing a pre-bed routine including relaxation exercises, meditation and listening to calming music.
  • Avoiding sleeping during the day.
  • Avoiding exercise before bed. Give yourself plenty of time to wind down.

Ask for advice about melatonin

If you're exercising regularly and have good sleep hygiene habits in place, but your sleeping difficulties persist, it's a good idea to seek the advice of a pharmacist or doctor.

Earlier this year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration gave approval for certain melatonin-containing medication to be sold by pharmacists without a doctor's prescription, as was previously required, to people aged 55 years or older.

This means medications such as Circadin®prolonged-release melatonin can now be obtained from your local pharmacy if the pharmacist deems it appropriate for you.

Circadin works with the body's natural processes to induce a restful, restorative sleep (1) . It does so by gradually releasing melatonin in the body over an eight-to-ten-hour period (2), facilitating the feeling of sleepiness, the ability to fall asleep and improving sleep quality (3).

Mr Bell shared how melatonin can deliver benefits without the drawbacks of many sleep medications.

"Melatonin is considered safe for short term use," he said. "In contrast to many sleep medications, with melatonin people are unlikely to become dependent, have a diminished response after repeated use (habituation), or experience a hangover effect.

"The move for prolonged-release melatonin to be available from pharmacies enables short-term access to sleep medicine under the management of a pharmacist."

An additional benefit of the approval is that Australians who previously resorted to sourcing melatonin products from countries where they are available without prescription, can now buy locally a medication with the reassurance of Australia's world-leading regulatory system.

"If the country of origin from which Australians have been purchasing melatonin products does not have the same regulatory excellence as Australia, there is no way to check the products are safe, of a high quality and do what they are supposed to do," said Mr Bell.

Circadin is clinically proven in people aged 55 and over (3) to help them fall asleep quicker, sleep better, wake refreshed and in turn improve quality of life. It is for the short-term treatment of people aged 55 years and over and must be supplied by a pharmacist.

ASK YOUR PHARMACIST - THEY MUST DECIDE IF THIS PRODUCT IS RIGHT FOR YOU.

Find out more about Circadin by visiting the website here.

References:

  1. Circadin® Consumer Medicine Information (January 2021).
  2. European Medicines Agency (EMEA). Assessment report for Circadin. Procedure No EMEA/H/C/695. 2007. https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/scientific-discussion/circadin-epar-scientific-discussion_en.pdf .
  3. Wade AG, Ford I, Crawford G, et al. Efficacy of prolonged release melatonin in insomnia patients aged 55-80 years: quality of sleep and next-day alertness outcomes. Curr Med Res Opin 2007; 23(10): 2597-2605.

This is sponsored content for Aspen Australia.

The story Chasing sleep: How to get a better night's rest first appeared on The Senior.

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