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Managing sleep disorders

This module examines the way pharmacy teams can support those struggling with sleep disorders.

This module looks at some of the more common sleep disorders, paying particular attention to symptoms and management strategies.

Pharmacists and their teams can help identify those people who are experiencing sleep disorders, provide advice and product recommendations where appropriate, and either refer on those requiring further medical attention, or signpost them to those resources designed to provide support and help.

Key facts

  • Insomnia is a common sleep disorder but sleep hygiene measures will help many sufferers
  • Pharmacological treatment is only recommended in very specific circumstances and after careful consultation due to the risks posed by the drugs used
  • Circadian sleep disorders due to shift work and jet lag need careful management, ideally ahead of time to try and minimise the impact. Melatonin is generally not recommended
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea generally responds well to continuous positive airway pressure on an ongoing basis, although some lifestyle changes can also make a difference
  • Narcolepsy is uncommon, and stimulants plus lifestyle adaptations can make it feel more manageable to sufferers

Contributing author: Asha Fowells MRPharmS, MFRPSII, clinical pharmacy writer

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