Natural Sleep

Reporter: Damien Hansen

A good night's sleep is something the majority of us take for granted but the truth is around one in three (36%) of you will go to bed suffering from insomnia. It is one of the most common sleeping disorders particularly in the elderly but you can rest easy, there's a new treatment on the market that claims to mimic the body's natural sleep tonic without the usual side effects.

Every night seven million of us can't get to sleep but a new pill is about to change all that.A natural alternative to addictive sleeping tablets that replicates the bodies own sleep hormone. "I'm a very active person you know I'm not exercising or working the lack of sleep just effects everything I do."

Ray Cade's gone to extraordinary lengths to get a good nights sleep. "I've designed my bedroom to be in the middle of the house ah this way it reduces the light and noise from the road and just gives me a good dark room to try and fall asleep in." The 47 year old landscape designer has tried countless sleeping medications.

"I wake up very irritable and angry so nothing that really works that well I've tried drinks that you mix up of a night time the barley drinks they'll get me into a deep sleep and one or two o'clock I'm awake again. I just cannot get into that deep sleep" Ray says. Prescribed sleeping tablets are notoriously addictive and then there are the side effects. Delusions, hallucinations, brushes with death. The side effects of Stillnox, a sleeping pill designed to quell the nightmare of insomnia, blamed for creating one for its users.

Other hypnotic class medications offer short term relief but patients sleep patterns rarely improve over time.It's no secret that the older we get the harder it is to fall asleep and it's because supplies of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep in our bodies decrease as we get age. But there is hope. It's called Circadin, an insomnia treatment containing the naturally produced melatonin, the chemical in our body that flicks our sleep switch.

"It is a natural substance produced within the body so we don't develop tolerance and we don't get rebound effects after it has stopped" says Dr Corbett.Ray has been trialling the drug. "I'm finding I'm going into a deeper sleep quicker um at this stage I'm still waking up once or twice during the night but then I am finding I'm going back to sleep and I'm falling into a deep sleep and waking up at a reasonable hour, six thirty seven o'clock" says Ray.

People taking Circadin experience a slow release of melatonin, mimicking the bodies natural rhythm, it diminishes during the second half of the night. "It seems to reinforce the patterns which we see as ideal in sleep the brain patterns without the negative consequences" says Dr Corbett.

It's in people over 55 where Circadin is expected to be most effective. In essence, restoring what's known as the hormone of darkness and it's hoped as a result insomnia suffers could quite literally find themselves sleeping like a baby. "The cost is about a $1.50 a day that's not a big cost to someone who is distressed by insomnia" adds Dr Corbett.

So for optimal health just how much shut eye should you aim for? "Figures that are quoted vary between six and a half and eight and a half but most of us need about eight" answers Dr Corbett. "I just need to have a sleep pattern and be able to get up at ten o'clock at night and wake up at seven and have normal life. It would be fantastic" says Ray.

And for a good night's sleep, for a start this winter - rug up. "If we have cold hands and feet our body inhibits the amount of melatonin so when people take Circadin they should get into a nice cosy bed" adds Dr Corbett.

For more information as well as tips from Dr Corbett on how to get a better night sleep visit website: