In ode of Sleep Awareness Week (12-18 March), we thought we’d get the low down on THE ‘lie down’, from the experts, Eden Sleep (ResMed). What’s more, we’re running our biggest giveaway yet over on our Insta page – scroll down to the bottom to read more about this.
Eden Sleep is Auckland’s renowned sleep clinic, whose team of experts like sleep coach, Terri Candy, help people get to the bottom of their sleep issues. They use a range of medical, scientific and diagnostic tools, to, well, help people get the best sleep of their lives. They also happen to be our neighbour in Parnell, across from the Comfi Hub – this was a coincidence by the way, but as it turns out, a very auspicious one, a match made in slumber heaven. They bring the personalised diagnostics, we bring the goods!
We sat down with Terri, who’s quite a big deal - with a Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Technology, as well as completing an intensive course on the Fundamentals of Sleep Medicine from the University of Sydney in 2019 - to provide insights on sleep disorders and sleep hygiene. She also dons her pillow fighting armour to bust some serious myths that people have about sleep as well as sharing tips for achieving a good night's full of zzz’s.
Tell us about Eden Sleep, what is it exactly, how it started?
EdenSleep is a Kiwi company that has been helping people sleep since 1999. It all started in New Plymouth, to help local people find out if they had sleep apnea without having to travel to Auckland to have a sleep test. In 2014 EdenSleep was acquired by ResMed making it part of the world’s premium sleep technology company but still with its own unique Kiwi style. The many advances in technology have allowed EdenSleep to grow across New Zealand and help so many more people along the way. We offer both in clinic and remote services allowing access to better sleep regardless of where you live.
What would you say are a few of the common misconceptions/myths that people have about sleep?
“Snoring is a sign of good sleep”.
Snoring is a sign that someone is asleep, not necessarily having a good sleep. Snoring occurs when airflow causes the soft tissues in the upper airway to vibrate. Snoring may be indicating a more serious sleep disorder – sleep apnea. ResMed recently did a global sleep survey and one of the stats was 62% of individuals do not consider snoring a sign of good sleep.*
“Sleep is a waste of time, I can sleep when I’m dead”.
With increasing demands on our time, life gets busy and we are all guilty of staying up too late or waking early, just to fit more in our day. However, sleep is an active process, when critical functions occur to set us up for the next day. Sleep loss (or short sleep) can affect our concentration, reaction times, memory and decision making, similar to being under the influence of alcohol. This is an important consideration given that many of us drive to work, operate heavy machinery, or are responsible for others during the day. We should be prioritising sleep rather than cutting it short.
What are some of the most common sleep disorders you see at the clinic, and can you briefly explain what they are?
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is the most common disorder I encounter. OSA is characterised by the recurrent obstruction of the upper airway during sleep. These respiratory events lead to fragmented sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness, as well as being linked to other health outcomes such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and dementia. Loud snoring, pauses in breathing, gasping for air and waking with a headache are common symptoms of OSA.
Insomnia is also common. Insomnia is when someone has trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking too early. Insomnia is usually initiated with a stressful event such as grief, that makes us worry and unable to sleep. For some the sleep disruption resolves as the stress resolves, for others it becomes ongoing.
If a disorder has been ruled out, what advice would you give someone who is still struggling to get a good night’s sleep?
If initial screening is inconclusive and someone is particularly symptomatic, or family have witnessed a particular behaviour, I would encourage them to seek a second opinion or re test. A sleep diary is a good way to track patterns of behaviour and identify how frequently the issue is occurring. Going back to basics with sleep hygiene is always a good place to start.
Just like diet and exercise there is no one size fits all when it comes to sleep. How would you advise readers to know where to start when figuring out what sleep routine best suits them?
Our energy levels rise and fall during the day and this is all due to our individual body clock or circadian rhythm. Adults generally need 7 – 9 hours of restorative sleep to function optimally. The timing of this sleep can be different from one person to the next. Think about how alert you feel and when you are the most productive, for some of us that is in the morning, for others later in the day. If you are most productive in the morning at say 8am then you work backwards from there allowing plenty of opportunity for sleep.
What are some factors that can help with achieving a good night’s sleep?
Comfort is a key factor to sleep and often overlooked. We spend a significant amount of time in bed so we should be considering this more often. Is our mattress and pillow still supportive, or are we waking with unexplained back or neck discomfort? If you have allergies at night, have you considered your bedroom environment, mattress, pillow or even pajama material or pets who often share the room? Pain at night may lead to frequent waking or repositioning, and allergies can lead to sinus congestion, snoring, or itching. All of which can contribute to sleep fragmentation or reduced quality of sleep.
And more broadly, how important is the sleep environment and sleep hygiene in achieving this?
Our bedroom, or sleep environment should be a positive place. We don’t want the last thing we see as we close our eyes (for example a work computer) to create a negative response. And this is what we call sleep hygiene, a set of guidelines to help us get the best sleep possible and wake up refreshed. A good place to start is with consistency, going to bed and waking at the same time everyday even on the weekends. Not eating or exercising close to bedtime as this will increase our body temperature. Avoiding stressful situations just prior to bed, such as awkward conversations, work computers and sometimes social media. What works for one person may not work for another, but sleep hygiene gives a good place to start if we are not getting optimal sleep.
Can you talk us through your personal sleep hygiene routine?
For me this starts as soon as I get home from work. I change out of my work clothes and then exercise the dog. This helps me disconnect from the workday “stresses” and keeps exercise away from bedtime. A typical evening is dinner around 7pm and then relaxing with some TV or a book and a cup of herbal tea. I aim to be in bed by 9.30, 10pm at the latest. Like clockwork the dog and the cat turn up in the bedroom while I am brushing my teeth. They too love routine. A 15 minute cuddle before bed is relaxing for all of us. I put them to bed (not in our room) before turning off the light.
In honour of Sleep Awareness Week, what is one thing you wish more people knew about sleep or getting a good night of it?
Sleep is critical to both our physical and mental health. Not only do we need quantity but also quality sleep. Creating a greater awareness of how we feel in the mornings, and if you are not waking refreshed, discuss this with your family, with your GP, occupational health team, or reach out for a conversation with a private sleep provider.
Are you ready to get the best sleep of your life? Check out our biggest giveaway yet over on our Insta post to enter. Up for grabs is; A Comfi Queen Supernatural Mattress, Comfi bed base, 2x Comfi Pillows, a consult with Terri from Eden Sleep and Groundd 100% Bamboo Sheet set, all to the value of $3400. Entries close on 18th March, winner announced on 19th March. Don’t sleep on it!
* Allison+Partners Performance + Intelligence. ResMed Global Sleep Survey, conducted January 2023.