Is not being able to sleep leaving you tossing and turning?
Now there’s somewhere you can call
Deadlines and illness like colds and flu can leave you tired, and tossing and turning, unable to sleep. But if you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, you could have a sleep disorder. Lack of sleep causes you to feel disconnected, irritable, and foggy - sleep problems cause much more than just sleepiness. A continuous lack of quality sleep can cause accidents, affect your relationships, physical and mental health. Now there’s a help line, which understands what it feels like to crave sleep yet not be able to get it.
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), and Sanofi-Aventis have joined forces and are launching a toll-free counselling line for people who struggle to sleep. 0800-SLEEPY (0800 753 379) will be launched on the 14 April 2009, “The line will offer callers information and advice on the various sleep disorders, as well as counselling and referrals”, says SADAG’s Cassey Amoore. Hilton Lawrence says that sleep disorders are very common yet most people feel frustrated, alone and helpless, and feel there is nowhere they can get accurate information. “The internet is full of self-help techniques and self-tests but if there is a real problem, this can be dangerous. It is our responsibility to make sure patients have access to the right help.”
So how much sleep does a person need? Enough to feel alert during the day and function effectively, particularly during the afternoon. “Many people feel that because they’re not getting the ‘prescribed 8 hours a night’ that there is something wrong but if they are highly functional with less, there may very well not be a problem”, says Amoore. The same goes for people who need more sleep. The message is – your body knows best.
Sadly, most people ignore what their bodies are telling them when it comes to sleep with the result that sleep deprivation is rampant. Our high-faces, high-stress lifestyle decreases the time we have available for sleep. When you do not get the sleep you need, you begin to build up a sleep debt. The cost of sleep debt and sleep deprivation is enormous – people are less productive, cause and are involved in more accidents, relationships suffer, and mental health and wellbeing can deteriorate fast if we don’t get enough sleep.
“Insomnia (a short term or chronic inability to get quality sleep) is a common sleep problem, and people don’t realise that although insomnia can be caused by many things like stress, a change in time zones, or a snoring partner, not sleeping or having disturbed sleep on a continual basis can make people depressed and anxious”, says Johannesburg-based psychiatrist Dr Frans Korb. We know that we feel grumpy and irritable and flippantly blame lack of sleep, but sleep deprivation can exacerbate existing health and mental health conditions making treatment less effective. We need sleep to recuperate and recharge – if we’re not getting it, we’re not getting well as we should.
SADAG deals with sleep-related problems daily – people who can’t sleep because they’re anxious, over-sleep because they’re depressed, or feel depressed and anxious because they’re not sleeping.” The 0800-SLEEPY line is the perfect place to start if you think you have a sleep disorder.
While we all experience ‘bad nights’ if your sleep is continuously interrupted or sleepless nights have become the norm, don’t toss and turn – talk to someone.