The Conversation

Editor's note

If you’ve tried everything to improve your sleep — exercise, cutting back on coffee, reducing screen time before bed and meditation — you might look to medication for some much-needed shut-eye. But as Ric Day and Andrew McLachlan explain, sleeping pills should be used cautiously and only as a short-term measure. The initial effectiveness wears off rapidly in the first few weeks of use, and users run the risk of becoming dependent. In this week’s edition of Thrive, Day and McLachlan run you through the sleep medication options and how their safety profiles compare.

Fron Jackson-Webb

Senior Health + Medicine Editor/Chief of Staff

There are many pharmacological options available for insomnia. But they will mostly make you reliant upon them for sleep. from

I can’t sleep. What drugs can I (safely) take?

Ric Day, UNSW; Andrew McLachlan, University of Sydney

With so many different types out there, it's hard to know what sleep medications are safe to use. Here's a guide.

From the archives

Health Check: how to soothe yourself to sleep

Joanna Waloszek, University of Melbourne

If you're tossing and turning in the middle of the night, these techniques may help you to nod off.

Explainer: what is Seroquel and should you take it for insomnia?

Petra Czarniak, Curtin University

Quetiapine, sold under the brand name Seroquel, is a short-acting antipsychotic drug to treat major mental illnesses. It has also been increasingly prescribed off-label for insomnia.

Explainer: what is insomnia and what can you do about it?

Imogen Rehm, Swinburne University of Technology; Hailey Meaklim, Swinburne University of Technology; Jo Abbott, Swinburne University of Technology

We all have a poor night’s sleep from time to time: those nights when you lie awake for hours trying desperately to go to sleep but can’t stop worrying about tomorrow. Or when you repeatedly wake up throughout…

Monday’s medical myth: you need eight hours of continuous sleep each night

Leon Lack, Flinders University

We’re often told by the popular press and well-meaning family and friends that, for good health, we should fall asleep quickly and sleep solidly for about eight hours – otherwise we’re at risk of physical…

Tech overload?

Do you pull out your phone the instance you’re bored? You’re a zombie checker. rawpixel/Unsplash

Do you ‘zombie check’ your phone? How new tools can help you control technology over-use

Joanne Orlando, Western Sydney University

Our unproductive 'zombie' screen hours can creep up – but they don't need to rule us. Here are four steps to help you use new tools to monitor and change your technology habits.

Apple’s smart watch can now read your heart current. from

Your Apple Watch can now record your ECG – but what does that mean and can you trust it?

Shane Nanayakkara, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute; Anna Beale, Monash University

The new Apple Watch is making waves for being able to record an electrocardiogram (ECG) and share it. An ECG can tell you what's going on with your heart.

Expert answers to serious, weird and wacky questions

Curious Kids: why do things look smaller when further away and bigger when closer to me?

David Franklin, University of Portsmouth

Your field of view is how much you can see without turning your head. When things are closer to us, they take up more of our field of view, which makes them look bigger.

Curious Kids: How do you know that we aren’t in virtual reality right now?

Tim Dean, University of Sydney

Are you dreaming that you're awake or are you living in a computer simulation? There might be no way to be sure.

Curious Kids: Why does English have so many different spelling rules?

Kate Burridge, Monash University

It was a rocky beginning for English spelling. Then things got worse.

How often do people forget things about one another? We decided to find out

Devin Ray, University of Aberdeen

People kept diaries for two weeks recording how often things about them were forgotten. The results turned out to be surprising.

Top picks from the week


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