Home' Be : Be Issue 11 Contents Q. Why is sleep so important to our well being?
A. It is proposed that sleep is a time during which rest,
recovery and restoration occurs in our bodies and our
brains. In children and adolescents it is an important
time for growth and development. There is also
considerable evidence that lear ning and memory
consolidation occur during sleep at all ages.
Q. What happens if we don't get enough sleep?
A. Getting inadequate sleep is associated with a number
of physiological, cognitive and mood effects. Chronic
sleep loss is common in modern society due to a number
of different reasons including extended working
hours, shiftwork, caring for sick relatives, social and
family pressures, sleep and circadian disorders, a
range of medical and psychiatric disorders, overseas
travel, studying, Inter net and environmental factors.
Neurocognitive effects of sleep loss include slowed
reaction times, poor decision making, decreased ability to
concentrate, reduced memory function and an increased
risk of errors, injury and accidents. Chronically shortened
sleep has been proposed to increase the risk for weight
gain, obesity, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disorders,
as well as reduced immune function. Sleep loss has also
been associated with changes in mood, and in some
people increased feelings of depression, while in others,
especially those with bipolar disorder, sleep loss may
Q. How many hours of sleep are recommended for adults
A. For adults the recommended sleep duration is 8 hours
per night. For children and adolescents the amount
of sleep required is greater than this, as much of the
development and growth that occurs in these ages
happens during sleep.
Q. How many hours of sleep do you get each night?
A. (I always get asked this question!) I usually get about 8
hours each night.
Q. Is there different qualities of sleep?
A. Slow wave sleep (SWS) or deep sleep is thought to be the
time during which most of us experience the majority of
our restoration and refreshment. As we age there tends
to be a reduction in the amount of slow wave sleep, as
well as an increase in the lighter stages of sleep and the
number and duration of awakenings across the night.
Q. If we sleep at different hours (eg shift workers) does
this affect how we function at work and home?
A. Shiftworkers are affected in two ways by our circadian
system and sleep-wake system. At night our brains
and bodies are designed to be asleep, with an increased
propensity for sleep, reduced cognitive function,
increased sleepiness, and changes to our physiology
suited to our resting state of sleep. Night workers are
required to be awake during this time and to maintain
their alertness and performance levels. Conversely,
during the daytime, our brains and bodies are designed to
be awake and active, with increased alertness, cognitive
performance, reduced propensity for sleep and an 'awake'
physiology. Although nightworkers have been awake and
working across the night, and have a high sleep need,
they often find it diffic ult to sleep well during the day,
due to our circadian system providing a strong drive to be
awake. Many times nightworkers are able to fall asleep,
but wake after only a short time and have difficulty in
returning to sleep.
Q. What is the focus of your current research?
A. I am cur rently looking at different aspects of sleep-
wake behaviour in shiftworkers, in particular coal
mine workers in Central Queensland. I am examining
the effects of different roster schedules on sleep-wake
behaviour and fatigue, as well as looking at factors
associated with drowsy driving crashes and working
to increase safety during commutes to and from work.
I am also looking at circadian rhythms/circadian
disr uption and sleep-wake disturbances in patients
with mood, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative
disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder,
depression, mild cognitive impair ment (MCI) and
CQUniversity researcher Naomi
Rogers talks to Be and Link about the
importance of getting a good night's sleep.
HOW TO GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
1. Go to bed when you are sleepy or tired -- don't go to bed
just because you are bored and don't try to fight sleep.
2. Get up at the same time each morning -- no sleeping in.
3. Have a quiet, sleep conducive environment -- not too
cold or hot, not too bright, no TV, no phone.
4. Relax before getting into bed -- don't use the bed for
thinking over the day's events and planning the next
day's events. No reading or watching TV.
5. Create a bedtime routine so your brain knows when to
start getting ready to go to sleep.
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