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New recommendations give GPs a guide to tackle sleep issues with patients

Royal Australian College of GPs 2 mins read

With 48% of Australian adults reporting at least two sleep related problems, the Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has added new recommendations to its preventive health guidelines for GPs to help patients tackle issues related to sleep, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea.

The College’s new 10th edition of its widely used Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice, the Red Book’, supports evidence-based screening, prevention of chronic disease, early detection of disease, and empowering patients through health education and promotion.

Sleep is among a range of new topics covered in the new edition of the Red Book.

Red Book Committee Chair Professor Danielle Mazza AM said sleep is a vital part of health.

“Nearly half of Australians experience at least two sleep-related problems,” she said.

“Those include inadequate sleep, which itself is a concern, but also chronic conditions like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea that seriously affect sleep quality, our overall health, and our ability to function at our best. Poor sleep can have significant negative effects on a patient’s physical and mental health, and it can sneak up on people when they’ve been stressed or experienced a change in their lives.

“There can be a wide range of factors that contribute to poor sleep, including being overweight, alcohol, certain medicines, and age.

“Issues with sleep affect people of all ages, and while some are more apparent to a patient like obstructive sleep apnoea and insomnia, other sleep issues can be more subtle. If you have had trouble falling or staying asleep, or you find yourself tired throughout the day, you should speak to your GP to receive advice to help you get back on track.”

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins emphasised the value of recommendations and advice like those included the Red Book.

“GPs see hundreds or thousands of patients a year, so up-to-date medical recommendations they can easily refer to in practice like the Red Book make an enormous difference,” Dr Higgins said.

“The leading causes of death and disability in Australia are preventable or can be delayed with early intervention. GPs are the people best placed to spot a health issue or potential issue, initiate those interventions, and work with patients to keep them well.

“Sleep is a vital part of health. By working with your GP to ensure you get enough sleep, we can head off issues that will reduce your quality of life and potentially identify underlying issues before they become a bigger problem.”

Earlier in June, the Australian Journal of General Practice published an edition focused on sleep issues presenting in general practice, with peer-reviewed articles including:



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The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is the peak representative organisation for general practice, the backbone of Australia’s health system. We set the standards for general practice, facilitate lifelong learning for GPs, connect the general practice community, and advocate for better health and wellbeing for all Australians.

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