March is World Sleep Day. Adults need around 7 to 9 hours sleep a night and the benefits of getting a good nights sleep are well documented. So what may be preventing our clients and us from getting enough good quality sleep? Let’s explore some now…

Certain medical conditions could impact an individual’s quantity and quality of sleep.

Medical conditions such as:

  • sleep apnoea,
  • under active thyroid

Additionally, many medications can result in sleep being affected due to a range of possible side effects. These medications can include:

  • Anti-arrhythmics
  • Beta blockers
  • Corticosteroids
  • Diuretics
  • Cough, cold, and flu medications that contain alcohol
  • Headache and pain medications that contain caffeine
  • Nicotine replacement products
  • Sedating antihistamines
  • SSRIs
  • Thyroid hormone        (Sleep Foundation)

Head here to see the related sleep effects associated with these medications. 

Unfortunately, the need for a lot of these medications outweigh the side effects and people are encouraged to power on despite the impact they can have. Although as fitness professionals, this is an area outside of our scope, we can provide advice and recommendations to how to adapt lifestyle choices to improve quality of sleep.

Lifestyle considerations need to assessed alongside their impact on the individual as everyone is different. Choices such as:

  • Alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Sleeping in the daytime
  • Using digital devices in the evening as the blue light from laptops, smart phones, tablets and TVs suppresses melatonin and can make it harder to fall asleep
  • Too much or too little exercise which can both affect sleep

These are just some of the areas that clients may be able to adapt in order to improve their sleep. Remember, it isn’t always about the duration of sleep for everyone but the quality of sleep. Having 10 hours of sleep but it be interrupted, light sleep is unlikely to be as beneficial as 6 hours of good quality sleep. Therefore, consider both quality and quantity when supporting someone to improve their sleep routines.

A previous blog we wrote discussed REM sleep and other lifestyle changes which clients can integrate too – read it here ‘ How To Get a Good Night’s Sleep’.

Click here to try the sleep self assessment to see if you have a sleep problem.