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An estimated one third of Australians suffer from some form of insomnia.

Depression and sleep difficulties go hand in hand. As many as 85 percent of people with depression have some sleeping difficulties, and research has shown that persistent insomnia can also cause depression, and relapses in people who have had depression in the past.

Lifestyle Factors
Insomnia Links

Occasional and temporary sleep disturbance is normal and not cause for concern. If you experience the following symptoms consistently and they are interfering with your daily life, then it is a good idea to get help and treatment before they seriously affect your health and well being.
  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Waking up throughout the night and not being able to get back to sleep
  • Waking up too early
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue

It is always a good idea to discuss your symptoms with your health care professional and check if there is a medical condition that may be contributing to your symptoms.

Causes and Risks
Worry or excitement are the most common causes of short term insomnia, and the problem goes away when the cause is resolved.

Other causes include excessive pain, caffeine consumption, abuse of alcohol, certain recreational and medicinal drugs, and poor sleeping habits (such as excessive napping during the day, or shift work) .

There are a number of treatments available depending on the severity and cause of the sleeping difficulty. Some generally acknowledged helpful ideas that can help to improve sleep quality and quantity:

Natural Therapies
  • Valerian, Passionflower and Hops are sedative herbs that can help you to sleep; they should be taken approximately one hour before going to bed
  • If stress is causing your sleeping difficulties, B group vitamins may be helpful if you are not getting enough of these naturally.
Discussing your particular situation with a Natural Therapist can be helpful. They may be able to make some other suggestions that will help you.

Books & Programs
There are a number of books and programs that have been developed to help with resolving sleeping difficulties. There are two written by Australian psychologists that we have had excellent feedback on. They are:
The Good Sleep Guide by Dr Timothy Sharp.
Sleep Better Without Drugs by Dr David Morawetz.
Alt Sleep by Alt.com.au.

Prescription Medication
For severe sleeping difficulties or disorders prescription medication may be a part of your treatment. Prescription medication may also be needed to help alleviate the symptoms of sleeping difficulties while the cause is being treated - such as with severe depression or anxiety.
There are a number of medications that your doctor may prescribe. You will find information on prescription medications in our Medications section.


Lifestyle Factors

Remember, a few nights of poor sleep do no long-term harm. Even if you toss and turn trying to get to sleep, research has shown that you are probably getting more periods of sleep than you think.
Your doctor or other health care professional may be able to provide you with more ideas that will help with your particular difficulty and situation.

A well-balanced lifestyle incorporating a healthy diet with regular exercise and relaxation is the best prevention from insomnia.
Ensure your bedroom is quiet, dark and well-ventilated. Ear plugs and eye-shades may help to reduce noise and light, and are particularly valuable for shift workers.

let us know if you are aware of any other research studies into sleep and related issues.

Depression & Insomnia: Which Comes First
An abstract of Australian Clinical Psychologist, Dr David Morawetz, study conducted to test the hypothesis that, for many people suffering from both depression and insomnia, treating the insomnia successfully without medication can cause the depression to lift as well.

There is also a Health Translations Online Directory that enables you, health practitioners, and those working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to easily find reliable translated health information.

The Directory provides web links to online multilingual resources across the health sector including government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, community health centres and welfare agencies.


Our thanks to Blackmores (www.blackmores.com.au) for their help in providing the information contained here.
Blackmores are a 'Banksia' supporter of depressioNet
Other factual information on Sleep was taken from Suite 101 (http://www.suite101.com)

Your feedback and input will be greatly appreciated.

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