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"I'm a busy, working mum of three. And I Just. Can't. Sleep."

Are you getting enough?

I try to prioritise my sleep, I really do, but I haven’t slept properly for 11 years since the birth of my first child.

My three children all ‘sleep through’. They sleep really well and have done for quite a while. I check them at night and they are fast asleep, and to add insult to injury so is the cat on my daughter’s bed.

My husband falls asleep in seconds, snoring away. It’s an entire household that’s fast asleep, except for me. I just can’t fall asleep that quickly and once I am asleep, I don’t sleep soundly.

For some reason, the second my head hits the pillow, my mind starts racing with thoughts and feelings and concerns about things I need to do for the kids and activities I have to book. Then I wake up with every tiny little noise, a habit formed when the kids were babies.

I should count myself lucky. A friend of mine suffers from terrible insomnia even worse than me and it has become her ‘normal’. She’s learned to function on little sleep but is constantly sick and nervous and tired. When we catch up for coffee (very strong coffee), instead of the usual chit chat, we share advice on how to get to sleep.

"The second my head hits the pillow, my mind starts racing with thoughts and feelings and concerns about things I need to do for the kids and activities I have to book."

Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue (of course) and weight gain, not to mention bad moods, irritability, lack of motivation, poor judgment and memory decline. You might start to worry about not sleeping, which can lead to more worry due to a lack of sleep and before you know it you are in a vicious cycle of sleeplessness and restlessness.

It all has to do with our circadian clock. Sleep and wake cycles are controlled by two chemicals produced in our bodies called adenosine (a brain transmitter) and melatonin (‘the hormone of darkness’). When our circadian rhythm is out of balance, poor quality sleep patterns develop. Women suffer from sleep disturbances more than men: female sex hormones can interfere with the circadian rhythm after our first period (Bei et al 2015). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - it’s hard to be a woman.

Other things can affect our circadian rhythm too...shift work, travel, caffeine, exposure to unnatural light before bed from electronic devices and alcohol consumption (Figueiro et al 2009; Chellappa et al 2011).

Sleep disturbances are common, with more than 1.5 million Australian’s suffering. That’s a lot of tired mothers and fathers and workers. According to Re-awakening Australia’s report, “The Economic Cost of Sleep Disorders in Australia, 2012”, lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to 4.5 per cent of workplace injuries and 4.3 per cent of car accidents.

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"Sleep disturbances are common, with more than 1.5 million Australian’s suffering."

It’s not just about how lack of sleep affects our current lives: we’re also living longer (our life expectancy is increasing 1.6-2.3 years every decade) and sleep is one of those bodily processes that is most affected by aging and related diseases (Tempaku et al 2015). My dad naps every day. His sleep at night is so fitful that he has no choice but to add a nap to preserve his health. When I retire I will do the same, but what will I do in the meantime?

Research shows that sleep is incredibly important for our health and wellbeing. We all know this to be true. Normal sleep can help restore our energy and can improve our immune defences and help maintain normal brain function. I want all of that. A good night’s sleep can support normal:

• Energy, because sleep enhances our body’s ability to conserve and restore energy.
• Immune system, because sleep can improve our immune defences, help fight infection and encourage the healing process.
• Brain function, because while we sleep our brain is able to work off-line to process and pack away our daily acquired information into our long-term memory files.

"If you suffer from sleeplessness or insomnia, you can try ReDormin."

If you suffer from sleeplessness or insomnia, you can try ReDormin. It works to help restore healthy sleep patterns by normalising the circadian rhythm to promote a deeper, more restful sleep. It helps to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and increase the time spent asleep, especially in the restorative deep sleep stage.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? It makes me want to go to bed right now.

Give it some time to work, and eventually you may be sleeping like a baby (a baby that sleeps).

Does anyone have the same problem? How does lack of sleep affect your life?

Click through to see what your sleeping position says about you (if you ever sleep.)

Want more? How about:

Parents, not babies, need sleep training.

Your sleeping position can tell you a lot about your personality.

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