Doc I'm tired

I know, the holidays are well and truly over. It is March and we are back to our usual routine but for many of you, there is the new addition of exercise and sport training in preparation for the Masters Games. And you are starting to feel tired. That can be normal!

Getting a good night’s sleep is important in maximising the benefits of physical activity. Your body needs time to recover from the workload.

So let’s have a look at sleep habits:

  • Are you getting enough sleep? Do you now get up earlier to exercise/train but still go to bed late at night? Try looking at how many hours of quality sleep you are now getting (and no, sitting in bed reading the iPad doesn’t count!).  Trying to sleep at the same time helps the body get into a routine and makes sleep easier.
    • Less than 5hrs of sleep per night increases your chances of getting viral illnesses and injury…
    • Being awake continuously for ~26hrs leaves you with a reaction time equivalent to a blood alcohol reading of 0.08!!
  • If you find that you exercise at night, and then are too wired to sleep, perhaps look at changing the time of exercise to earlier in the morning/day to give the endorphins time to settle.  Same for caffeine.
  • Is your room the right temperature? Living in the Tropics, it is still hot at night so do you have the fan or air-conditioning on (not Eskimo freezing temp, but cool enough for comfort). And no, thick 1000 thread-count sheets don’t really work in Cairns!
  • How old are your pillows? Like anything, pillows degrade over time with poor quality, get filled with dust/dustmites and lose their shape which can lead to neck issues, headaches and other issues.  Perhaps a spring clean-out of the bedroom is required!
  • TURN YOUR PHONE/TECHNOLOGY OFF. Do Not Disturb mode was invented for a reason.  Enough said.
  • Are you a snorer? Or have you been told you stop breathing during your sleep? Sleep apnoea is a serious issue that should be discussed with your doctor as it can lead to other medical issues, like heart problems.  Not to mention the anxiety your partner may have hearing you stop breathing or worse, keeping them awake!

If you like numbers, there are plenty of sleep apps (phone/watches/fitbits) that can monitor the movement during the night, or even sleep quality questionnaires that may be worth chatting to your Doctor about to help you smash out the zzzzzzs.

Dr Kira James is a Sport & Exercise Medicine Registrar with FNQ Sports Medicine, living it up in Cairns.  She loves to sleep but finds exercising easier early in the morning (and loves seeing how active our community is bright and early) so is slowly becoming a morning person instead! Find out more about Dr Kira at