Thoracic and Sleep Group Queensland People caring for how you breathe and sleep

May 31, 2016

Let’s take a nap!

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 10:35 pm

There are times during the day when you may feel a nap will be the one thing to get you through to 5PM. Most of us will crash in energy levels as the afternoon slump hits around 2 or 3pm. Indulging in what is known as a “power nap” may help us revitalise and remain productive throughout the afternoon. Some companies such as Google have “nap pods” and actively encourage employees to take a break.

So for how long should you nap? Believe it or not, the ideal duration of a nap that could boost your memory, alertness, creativity and productivity is between 20-30 minutes. Even NASA recommends a 26min nap for their pilots! Any longer and you will enter a deeper stage of sleep, which can be harder to wake from and afterwards you may feel “groggy”.

Another interesting question is are we able to take several naps to make up for not getting enough sleep at night? According to one of Australia’s leading neuroscientist’s, Dr Fiona Kerry, the answer is no. The importance of a five or six hour long sleep at night is that it allows the frontal lobe to power down in REM, which cleans and maintains the brain. Research has shown that the cleaning process of the brain that occurs during sleep may remove the sticky plaque from neurons in the brain that could be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

So go ahead, take that 20 minute nap so that you can clean your inbox of short-term memoires and wake up feeling refreshed and more alert.

ABC News

Sleep Hygiene Series: Part 3 – Your sleep routine

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 6:19 am

Question: What is Sleep hygiene?

Answer: Practices and habits that help to promote a good nights sleep


A sleep routine is not something many of us know that we may have. Going to bed at 10pm and waking “when the kids get up” is not actually your sleep routine. A sleep routine is a set of behaviours or practices that you typically do as you prepare for bed. This may include a warm glass of milk or brushing your teeth. What we don’t realise is that elements of Part – 1 and Part – 2 of this series play a role in our sleep routine i.e. reduce bright light, avoid caffeine etc. Before reading further, it may be worth reading parts 1 &2 of this sleep hygiene series.


What time do you go to bed? Is it the same time every night? Having a regular bedtime and wake time is important part of your sleep routine (but is not all of your sleep routine). If you go to bed/sleep at a standard time each and every night, your body will get used to going to sleep at that particular time. This is similar to you having lunch every day at 12:00, over time your body naturally starts to get hungry at that time. Try and stick to this sleep and wake time, as good habits are ones worth keeping.


With your bedtime in mind, begin to wind down in the lead up to bed. This includes avoiding exercise, caffeine, mental stress and bright light. Aim for about an hour, but this will vary from person to person. It is ok to read or watch TV, so long as the content is not mentally straining or engaging. You don’t want your brain to be overly stimulated, the last thing you want is to not be able to sleep because you are wondering what will happen in the next chapter or on the next episode. The key to this period of winding down, is to do the same thing at the same time each and every day. Have this time as loss stress as possible, avoid a lot of effort and be comfortable, you want the end result of your wind down being you climbing into bed nice and relaxed, tired and ready for sleep.


Tip: Some meditation techniques can be useful for people with issues with sleep onset (getting off to sleep).

Fun fact: Did you know that sleep blocks your short to long term memory pathways? Have you ever been able to remember the exact moment you fell asleep? You can’t. While the length of time will most likely vary from person to person, sleep will wipe a period of time from your memory starting from the very moment you fell asleep. Hopefully this memory loss hasn’t caused you to have arguments with your significant other… Hopefully you never have to hear: “I told you last night!! You never listen to me!”

Where you live affects how much you sleep

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 6:10 am


There are some consistent truths to sleep habits across all cultures: Gender is a key determinant of how many hours of sleep any one person gets, with women and girls logging a bit more than men and boys. Bedtime and wake time are determined principally by age. While small children go to bed early and wake up early, the pattern shifts dramatically in the teen years, with kids going to bed later and sleeping till noon on weekends if they’re allowed. Throughout adulthood and into old age, the pattern reverses again, as bedtimes and wake times creep earlier and earlier. But, separate from these truths, University of Michigan researchers have found cultural factors affect when people went to bed and for how long they slept

Using a smart phone app, the researchers logged the bed and wake time from participants across the globe. This study of global sleep patterns suggests that Australians have the earliest bedtime of any country. Australians were the first to turn in, heading to bed just after 10.45pm – about an hour earlier than the Spanish, who had the world’s latest bedtime. People in Singapore and Japan got the least shut-eye, sleeping for 7 hours and 24 minutes a night, on average. The Dutch got the most sleep of any nation, with a national average of 8 hours and 12 minutes.

The study shows that not everybody’s personal body clock is perfectly suited to the rhythms of home. There are surely some innately late-rising Americans who struggle with their country’s crack-of-dawn culture, as surely some morning larks get awfully lonely at 7 a.m. in Spain. So what country is best for you? To find out where you fit in, read more at:

May 27, 2016

Should I take my CPAP on holiday?

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 3:09 am

As the holidays are approaching most of you will have a checklist of what you will take with you on your break. Is your CPAP machine on the list? Enjoying some time away does not mean a break away from your CPAP therapy. Particularly if you are going to be driving, research has shown you cannot afford even one night without CPAP. Here are some handy tips of how to prepare for your CPAP therapy during your holiday.

Break it in half – really?

Yes most CPAP devices are able to be divided into separate components. If you need to travel light, the humidifier of your CPAP machine may be detached and the remainder of the machine can be used individually. How to tell if you are able to use the CPAP without the humidifier; trial this over a few nights before your trip and if you didn’t experience any nasal congestion or dryness of the nose and throat, you will be fine.

Camping or caravanning

Planning on going camping or caravanning? Please check before you leave if your destination will have access to a power source so you are able to use your CPAP. If this will be limited, you may be able to obtain a battery adapter for your device; your CPAP supplier will have more information.

Airlines & Overseas travel

When travelling either domestically or internationally always remember to take your CPAP device onto the cabin with you. DO NOT check it with your luggage. DO NOT have water in the humidifier. During the security check please provide access to the bottom of your device as there may be a label or a sticker which will say “this is a medical device” or “FAA compliant”. Finally if you are going on a long haul trip and you wish to use your CPAP device whist on the plane, you will need to organise a seat with a power outlet. Check with your airline if this option is available.

Happy and safe travels!

National Sleep Foundation – Going on Vacation? Don’t forget CPAP Equipment for Sleep Apnea.

May 24, 2016

The benefits of a good night’s sleep

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 6:03 am

“Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

– Benjamin Franklin, 1758

Cramming is a ritual for students across the globe. Whether it is finishing off an assignment or working through lecture slides, cramming involves staying up late and pilling as much information as possible into the brain the night before an exam. What we know about sleep and memory consolidation suggests that forgoing sleep to fill the brain with as much information is a terrible way to prepare for an exam.

Sleep occupies a third of our lifespan. It is important for a many different physiological functions, from cardiac health to memory consolidation. Is is the facet of memory consolation that we will explore. Sleep is an intensively active time for the brain, especially for reorganizing and restructuring memory from short to long-term. This consolidation occurs with the help of the hippocampus. Studies have shown that the hippocampus is involved in the consolidation of long term declarative memory, such as the facts and concepts you need to remember for a test. The linked video goes into more details of how this procedure works.

So how do we improve this process of memory consolidation. Well, with sleep. Declarative memory is repeatedly processed, similar to the process of revising over and over again, until gradually memories are redistributed for long-term storage in the cortex of the brain. The take home message is that skimping on sleep makes it less likely that you will retain all the knowledge and practice that you have crammed into the previous evening. For more information, see the linked TEDEd video – The benefits of a good night’s sleep.


Sleep Hygiene Series: Part 2 – Your preparing your body for sleep

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 5:57 am

Question: What is Sleep hygiene?

Answer: Practices and habits that help to promote a good nights sleep


We need to be both physically and mentally tired to get a good nights rest. Lets start with exercise, an important influence on our sleep quality. Research has shown that regular exercise can promote sleep and even reduce the severity of sleep disorders (eg sleep apnoea). It is important to exercise every day, even if you have a physically demanding job or a very busy and demanding work schedule. For those of us who are sleep deprived, exercising can be difficult to get motivated for. When you are tired the last thing you feel like doing is exercise, but this is actually the most important time to exercise. Exercise improves your sleep, helping you to feel better which makes exercising easier which in turn helps you sleep better.

PT_May_Sleep Hygiene - PArt 2 - image3For those of us who work shift work, having a cup of coffee in the afternoon may seem normal in preparation for a late night on shift. For those of us who do not work shift work, caffeine should not be consumed after lunchtime. We all react to caffeine differently and often we become used to the effects of caffeine stimulation. Even so, caffeine should be consumed as far from bed time as possible. Caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours, what this means is that after 5 hours of having a cup of coffee, you are still receiving half of the full effect of that coffee. So if you have a coffee, soft drink or energy drink at 2pm, it will still be affecting you at 8pm.

A lot of Australians enjoy a drink or two in the evening. While 1-2 standard drinks is ok and can provide a calming effect as a part of our evening relaxation, more than this amount can impact on your sleep. Alcohol can have a sedative effect (helps you fall asleep), but it can also impact on the quality of your sleep. Alcohol will delay and reduce the amount of your REM sleep which is the type of sleep that improves your mood, your memory and ability to learn. Alcohol will also increase the severity of sleep apnoea and other breathing disorders. Use caution when deciding whether or not to have another drink.

young man asleep on a table while holding an empty beer bottle

Tip: Expose yourself to as much natural light as you can during the day (at least 30 minutes a day). This may include taking your lunch outside or exercising outdoors rather than at the gym. The exposure to natural light promotes wakefulness when your body is awake, this is actually an important part of your circadian rhythm (which is associated with your body clock). If your body aligns better to your circadian rhythm it will help your body to promote your sleep at bedtime.

Fun fact: It is the blue light of the natural UV light spectrum that promotes wakefulness. Some people who cannot easily get exposure to natural light may use “blue light therapy” during the day to help supplement their lack of real UV light.

PT_May_Sleep Hygiene - Part 2 - image2

May 18, 2016

Stress and Sleep Disorders

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 6:34 am

Stress is our response to daily life. It affects us emotionally, physically, and behaviourally. The right amount of stress can be a positive force that helps us to do our best and to keep alert and energetic. However, when the amount of Stress is high it could cause sleep problems.

According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), the majority of adults with a stress-induced sleep problem experience it at least once per week, and more than half experience it at least several times a week. Three-fourths of adults whose sleep is affected by stress or anxiety say that their sleep problems have also increased their stress and anxiety: 54 percent say that stress or anxiety increased their anxiety about falling asleep at night, and 52 percent of men and 42 percent of women reported it affected their ability to remain focused the next day[1].

There are a variety of tips for managing stress and get better our sleep but some of these have been published by the American Psychological Association[2] as five healthy techniques that psychological research has shown to help reduce stress in the short- and long-term:

  • Take a break from the stressor. When you give yourself permission to step away from it, you let yourself have time to do something else, which can help you have a new perspective or practice techniques to feel less overwhelmed. It’s important to not avoid your stress totally, but even just 20-minutes to take care of yourself are helpful.
  • The researchers have shown the long-term benefits of a regular exercise routine. Even a 20-minute walk, run, swim or dance session in the midst of a stressful time can give an immediate effect that can last for several hours.
  • Smile and laugh. Our brains are interconnected with our emotions and facial expressions. When people are stressed, they often hold a lot of the stress in their face. So laughs or smiles can help relieve some of that tension and improve the situation.
  • Get social support. Call a friend, send an email. When you share your concerns or feelings with another person, it does help relieve stress.
  • Meditation helps the mind and body to relax and focus. Mindfulness can help people see new perspectives, develop self-compassion and forgiveness. When practicing a form of mindfulness, people can release emotions that may have been causing the body physical stress. Much like exercise, research has shown that even meditating briefly can reap immediate benefits.

[1] Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA). Stress and Anxiety Interfere With Sleep. Available on: 

[2] American Psychological Association (APA). Five tips to help manage stress. Available on:

May 16, 2016

This is what happens to your brain when you check your smartphone before bed

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 12:08 am

Most of us are aware of the fact that using a smartphone or tablet before bedtime is bed, but this is what really happens to your brain and body.

The smartphone and tablet are wonderful inventions and most of us are pretty addicted to those devices. We use them all day long and even a few seconds before we actually close our eyes, we have still have the smartphone or tablet glued to our hands. But this is not a healthy behaviour, it keeps your brain active. The light of the screen will give a signal to your brain that it is far from bedtime.

Although most of us are aware of the fact that staring at screens right before you go to sleep is pretty bad for your brain and body – well at least should be aware of this fact. But research shows that staring at screens before going to sleep turned to be a lot worse than previously thought.

In the short video below Dr. Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, lays out all of the negative effects bedtime screen viewing can have on the brain and body. He will show you what exactly happens to your brain and he will give you a good reason not to use your mobile or tablet before going to bed (at least an hour before bedtime). So be sure to check out the video below!

Story Source:


May 15, 2016

Sleep Hygiene Series: Part 1 – Your Sleep Environment

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 11:46 pm

Sleep Hygiene Series: Part 1 – Your Sleep Environment

Question: What is Sleep hygiene?

Answer: Practices and habits that help to promote a good nights sleep


Our sleep environment is often something that many of us underestimate the importance of. We often don’t understand the impact it can have on the quality of our sleep. Lets start with the bedroom, did you buy your curtains because they look nice or because they will help your sleep? The brightness of the sleep environment may impact your sleep, rule of thumb; the darker the better. There are many ways to darken your room. Sleep eye masks for example can be worn (but may be uncomfortable), black out curtains are probably the most ideal solution, however cardboard boxes can be just as effective at a fraction of the cost.

Do you own a tablet (iPad), a smart phone or a laptop? Do you use these in bed? Do you feel you need to check your email or have a quick look at facebook before bed? Stop right there. This is a guilty pleasure so many of us partake in and it can impact on your sleep. The bright lights from these devices can trick the body and reduce the drive to sleep.


You should avoid procrastinating about sleep, this is a prime example of poor sleep hygiene. The bed should be used for two things only… Sleep and sexual activities. Beds are not designed for reading, problem solving and study, computer games, watching TV or eating. These are all terrible habits that may prevent you from having a quality nights sleep. This is especially true for those having trouble sleeping – your bed is for your sleep!


Tip: Do what you can to minimise noise, make your bed as comfortable as possible and try to avoid overly pungent smells in your bedroom. Sadly some of these annoyances come from other people and these people we may not easily be able to avoid (eg: partners, children, housemates).

Fun fact: Your core body temperature needs to drop slightly before sleep. Your body will pump blood to your extremities (hands and feet) to help to cool your body down. Some people find that sticking your feet out from the blankets can help them to get off to sleep, perhaps this is why?

Study reveals ‘global sleep crisis’ is threat to our health

Filed under: Blog — Mark Russell-Pavier @ 11:39 pm

Cultural pressures are reportedly overriding our body’s demands for rejuvenation.

The authors of a new study have warned that sleep deprivation is a “pressing threat” to human health.

The assessment of the sleep habits of people in 100 countries revealed many developed nations, such as Germany, Japan and Brazil, failed to reach recommended amounts of slumber, while Australia and New Zealand were two of the lucky countries to average eight hours a night.

“Impaired sleep presents an immediate and pressing threat to human health,” the authors wrote in the journal article.

Cultural pressures were more likely to impact the amount of shut-eye each night than the internal “circadian” clock.

It meant we were getting to bed later, despite the body waking us naturally at the same time each morning.

This was the main factor in a lack of sleep.

“Sunrise, sunset, and light exposure do have marked effects on sleep timing,” the study, published in Science Advances, read.

“Biological cues around bedtime are either weakened or ignored for societal reasons, thereby leading individuals to delay their bedtime and truncate their sleep duration as a result.”

Sunset and sunrise regulated the circadian clock, while social factors, like work commitments, resulted in “selective blocking of light during the day or the use of electric light at night”.

 NE_May_GlobalSleep_Image2Tired people like ‘functional drunks’

Despite our bodies demanding between seven and eight hours a night, the study found middle-aged men were routinely getting less.

Women on average slept 30 minutes longer than men.

Work environment was also a factor – outdoor workers benefitted from the natural light and tended to go to bed earlier and sleep more than people who spent most of their time indoors.

Study co-author Olivia Walch said even if you got six hours of sleep a night, you were building up a sleep debt.

“It doesn’t take that many days of not getting enough sleep before you’re functionally drunk,” Ms Walch said in a statement.

“What’s terrifying … is that people think they’re performing tasks way better than they are.

“Your performance drops off but your perception of your performance doesn’t.”

Singaporeans, Japanese down on sleep

The study used data on age, gender, location and sleep patterns gathered through smartphone application, Entrain.

About 6000 people 15 years and older contributed anonymous information on their bed and wake-up times and lighting environment.

Older individuals were more likely to be in a sleep routine, although they slept less and had earlier wake times than young people.

Sleep duration also varied depending where you lived.

On average, people living in Singapore and Japan got just seven hours and 24 minutes sleep each night, less than anywhere else in the world.

The longest slumbers’ were the Dutch, who got an average eight hours and 12 minutes.


Story source:


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