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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Overview of sleep

Tirohanga whānui ki te moe

Good sleep is a necessary part of health and wellbeing. It’s important for your brain function, emotional wellbeing and physical health.

Most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep can affect how you perform during the day and your personal safety.

Nearly everyone has difficulty getting to sleep from time to time but for some people, this can be a regular ongoing problem. When this happens, not only do you feel tired and sleepy, but it can really interfere with your day-to-day functioning and affect your health.

Keeping a sleep diary for two weeks can give a clearer picture of your sleep pattern.

Causes of poor sleep

Poor sleep may be linked to several of conditions, such as pain, anxiety, depression, restless legs syndrome and obstructive sleep apnoea. If you're concerned about a possible cause for your poor sleep, see your general practice team for assessment and advice.

Sometimes poor sleep is related to specific circumstances such as shift work, being pregnant or being a parent.

Treating poor sleep

Sleep hygiene is a term for things you can try doing to improve your sleep. See Tips for sleeping well.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I ) is a short course of treatment that identifies thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are causing poor sleep and tells you how to change them. You can get CBT-I from a trained counsellor, psychologist, doctor or sleep therapist or via an online course, such as Just a Thought.

Medications are sometimes used to help with sleep but these usually only help for a short time.

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Next page: Tips for sleeping well

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2022.


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Review key: HISLE-11928