10:17am Friday 06 December 2019

Good mental health begins in bed

At first glance, the idea of teaching someone how to sleep seems strange.

After all, newborns don’t need to be taught how to sleep like, well, babies.

Yet as we begin to take on the pressures and stresses of modern life, many of us start having trouble getting a good night’s sleep.

In fact, one in three Australians will suffer from a sleeping disorder at some stage of their lives which can have a devastating effect on their satisfaction with life, work performance, relationship quality and even mental health.

While insomnia is the most common form of sleeping disorder, a lack of sleep is something that affects us all.

In the past 100 years the average number of hours slept each night has fallen from eight to seven.

In a way we are sleep depriving ourselves as a species.

There is a bit of a chicken or the egg debate around how sleeping disorders and mental health problems are linked.

We don’t know the exact causal relationship between sleep and mental health.

What we do know is that the majority of people suffering from mental health problems also have trouble sleeping.

We also know that addressing sleeping problems can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of someone struggling with mental health issues.

This is why we considered it essential that sleep therapy is among the range of psychological services offered at the new ECU Health Centre in Wanneroo.

One of the main things psychologists can do to help patients with sleep disorders is help them establish a routine around sleeping.

It is also important to associate the bedroom only with sleep, which means not reading, or using electronic devices in bed.

If you want to improve your fitness you go to an exercise scientist and if you want help to start eating better you go to a nutritionist.

If you have any trouble sleeping it makes sense to see a sleep therapist.

Professor Ken Greenwood is Executive Dean of Edith Cowan University’s Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science.


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