Health professionals information
Despite a rising awareness of the importance of sleep to our health, well-being and safety, the nature of sleep and the disorders that affect it are not well understood by our community. The information here is provided to help health professionals understand key aspects of sleep health and sleep medicine. It is designed for general practitioners, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists.
The ASA also runs education courses that cover the basic fundamentals of sleep health and sleep medicine for professionals across all health disciplines. Upcoming educational opportunities are listed in our events listing. You can access recordings of past educational events in the Learning Centre.
Chronic insomnia (symptoms for more than 1 month) affects about 10% of the total population and is more common in older people who often have other medical conditions. Chronic insomnia can significantly impair quality of life, and is associated with poor health, including poor mental health.
Obstructive sleep apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a very common condition affecting 2-4% of adults to a significant degree. It characterised by repeated episodes of obstruction of the throat during sleep and is usually associated with loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. Obstructive sleep apnoea is an independent risk factor for the development of hypertension and insulin resistance, and is associated with heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia, and stroke. Treatment includes lifestyle changes, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), mandibular advancement splints and surgery.
Shift work sleep disorder consists of symptoms of insomnia or excessive sleepiness that occur as transient phenomena in relation to work schedules. A critical component in diagnosis is the distinction between what might be considered ‘normal’ responses to the challenges of shift work, and a clinical response which may include issues that impact on the individual’s work and family life. Prevalence estimates suggest that 10% of shift workers likely suffer from shift work sleep disorder.
Circadian rhythm disorders
Circadian rhythm disorders are disorders in which there is a persistent or recurrent pattern of sleep disturbance due primarily to either alterations in the internal circadian timing system or misalignment between an individual's internal circadian rhythm of sleep propensity and the 24-hour social and physical environments. The primary symptoms are insomnia, excessive sleepiness during wake periods, or both. These disturbances are associated with impairment of social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is believed to be a disorder of the body's timing system - the biological clock. Sufferers have difficulty falling asleep and difficulty waking because their biological clocks are out of phase with the sleeping and waking times expected of them. It is frequently associated with insomnia and depression.