Published June 2016

  1. ABC Sleep Facts article View Link
Facts about sleep

Working shifts or particularly long days, being on call and ‘moonlighting’ extra shifts can disrupt sleep patterns and lead to fatigue.

Did you know:

  1. The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses
  2. The continuous brain recordings that led to the discovery of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep were not done until 1953, partly because the scientists involved were concerned about wasting paper
  3. Snoring occurs only in non-REM sleep
  4.  Most of what we know about sleep we’ve learned in the past 25 years
  5. Experts say one of the most alluring sleep distractions is the 24 hour accessibility of the internet
  6. The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska, the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the Chernobyl nuclear accident have all been attributed to human errors in which sleep deprivation played a role.
  7. Alcohol and caffeine have a detrimental effect on sleep. They are both associated with early-morning wakening. Caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours which means that if you have a coffee at 12 noon there will be 25% of it left in your brain just when you want to go to sleep!

Quality of sleep has a direct effect on your mental and physical health.

Lack of, or poor sleep can cause irritability, reduced concentration, impaired memory, decreased hand-eye coordination and can affect your ability to fight and endure sickness.

Here are some tips to help you maintain good sleep hygiene:

  • As often as possible, go to bed at the same time every night – the body has an inbuilt natural clock which will make you sleepy when ready for bed
  • Try to get up at the same time each day – by doing so the body clock remains synchronised with the outside environment
  • Exercise regularly – studies have shown that regular exercise will encourage restful sleep
  • Exercise should be done early in the evening or in the morning
  • Get out of the hospital building or your office at some time during the day. Natural light/bright light encourages the body to produce melatonin
  • Make your bedroom as restful as possible – keep the temperature cool, keep noise and outside light to a minimum and leave distracting items such as beeping watches outside
  • Use your bed only for sleep – by using the bed as a couch (for knitting, watching TV, studying) the brain makes connections between the bed and these activities
  • Don’t stay in the bedroom if you are awake. If unable to sleep within 20-30 minutes, get up and watch TV in another room. Only return to the bedroom when you are sleepy
  • Avoid looking at the clock all the time – clocks with bright numbers are distracting, also obsessing over the time will make it more difficult to go to sleep
  • Don’t use alcohol to help you sleep – alcohol consumption leads to fragmented sleep and it worsens snoring and sleep apnoea.