APA welcomes cooperation between pharmacists and the Australasian Sleep Association

11 May 2015

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) supports the memorandum of understanding entered into by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) and the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA) to support pharmacist education in sleep health and sleep science, and sees healthy sleep practices as critical to the well being of every member of society.

APA National President Marcus Dripps says: “People spend approximately a third of their life asleep – it’s a time reserved for healing and rejuvenation. Without the right quantity and quality of sleep, people can be at risk of poor health outcomes.”

He says that physiotherapists play direct and indirect roles in ensuring that patients get a good night’s sleep.

Research shows poor sleepers with chronic lower back pain score higher on perceived stress scales, and measures for depression and anxiety.

“It is quite common for people with pain to experience sleep disturbances. Physiotherapists have a role to play in educating patients that gentle exercise is good for pain control and can help improve sleep.

“Chronic pain sufferers often get into a vicious cycle of pain and increasing inactivity that often exacerbates sleep problems. Prescribing a gentle, graded exercise program is crucial for these patients.

“The role of the physiotherapist is also indirect. They may need to communicate with the patient’s GP that they are not sleeping properly and flag exploring or adjusting pain medications and/ or refer them to a sleep specialist for further assessment,” Dripps says.

Further conditions that physiotherapists come across that affect sleep include obstructive sleep apnoea; periodic and restless leg movements; twitching of the lower limbs and sleep disorders related to Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and myotonic dystrophy.

“It is important for physiotherapists to keep an eye out for all conditions affecting sleep and communicate closely with the patient’s team of health specialists.

“In conditions like obstructive sleep apnoea, which is common in middle-aged men and is exacerbated by age and obesity, physiotherapists need to highlight the importance of appropriate exercise and flag any suspicions of the condition affecting the patient to their GP,” Marcus Dripps says.

About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 17,000 members who conduct more than 21 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit www.physiotherapy.asn.au/

For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact:

Ruth Heenan, Australian Physiotherapy Association
T 03 9092 0813, 0416 565 332 E Ruth.Heenan@physiotherapy.asn.au
Pammy Kokoras, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1317 or 0421 105 710 E Pammy@undertowmedia.com
Rachael Horan, Undertow Media
T 03 9421 1318 or 0426 631 316 E rachael@undertowmedia.com