All I want for Christmas is a good night’s sleep. Part 1

father christmas asleep. Photo by cottonbro studio.

Written by Adrian Zacher

CEO and Founder of the BSPSS.

December 17, 2023

All I want for Christmas is a good night’s sleep. 

With the festive season fast approaching, and the New Year traditionally being a time for new beginnings, sleep issue patients will be coming your way – in droves!

But can you help them? Or are you just going to grumble about self-presenting patients taking your time – and sell them an OTC ‘sleep aid’?

There is another way…


Their sleep issues may range perhaps from short-term insomnia due to family woes or isolation, to job insecurity or perhaps relationship difficulties because:

“OMG! their snoring is driving me mad”.

And mixed in are some problematic and prevalent sleep disorders that may be missed for DECADES.

Every day this week, I will post about the typical sleep disorders you already encounter in Community Pharmacy. It’s not going to be a MasterClass, and I fully recognise that it will leave gaps in your knowledge.

In fact, that’s the plan.

Say what?

Yes, I want you to be hungry for more – intrigued.

father christmas asleep. Photo by cottonbro studio.

I want you to realise that while sleep is something we ALL do, the typical healthcare professional knows little about (unless they’ve completed CPD courses). Don’t get defensive – but be ready to embrace change. That’s all I ask.

So, there’s no ‘pointy finger’ here.

Why does sleep matter?

The women in this picture are drunk. Alcohol has sedative effects but they only get poor quality sleep.

christmas party excess

Sleep is involved with mental health and EVERY chronic disease. 

Yes, obesity. Yes, type II diabetes, Yes, cardiovascular disease. I will stop there (the list is nearly endless and growing).

So, back to the poor sleep sufferer standing in front of you.

Can you help people sleep?

There are some questions you must ask yourself as a healthcare professional:

  • What can you do to actually help them?
  • How do you not see this disgruntled customer again next week?
  • Are they dependent on OTC sleep aids?

Goodness, did I just mention the ‘elephant in the room’? Dependency on sedatives?

Yes, I did.

Did you know that OTC ‘Sleep Aids’ are NOT first-line therapy for insomnia? (More on this particular topic tomorrow).

Can you help them sleep?

And what about snoring and sleep apnoea? Ever heard of a ‘sleep-trained dentist’? Do you know what they offer? Would you know how to find one to refer a patient to?

My gift to you:

Don’t sell what doesn’t work. Instead help people by grabbing our free, independently produced, evidence-based, FactSheets and doing our FREE online CPD courses.

Then in as little as few hours, you’ll know how to help suspected sleep disorder patients in an evidence-based way.

And with a little more time (because now you’re truly fascinated) you’ll see multiple ways to commercialise ‘sleep’ and help people in a rewarding and fundamental way. 

Right now, you have the ‘problem’ of undiagnosed sleep issue patients self-presenting and taking your time.

My Christmas present to you is the ‘solution’.

The solution to both their sleep issue and your salvation from moving boxes, is assessment, screening, recognition and signposting.

Right patient, right place, right time.

The ‘solution’ will need you to be courageous and do things differently.

Perhaps as part of a fee-paying, sleep patient assessment?

You could also include questions like these:

  • Do you have high blood pressure? If they don’t know (and they qualify) you could offer a spot intervention and find out.
  • What about weight management?
  • What about diabetes?

New beginnings:

Christmas and the New Year are traditionally time for giving and new beginnings. So the good news is that there are significant opportunities here.

Opportunities for a new beginning.

Opportunities to improve the patient (and partner’s sleep), be a healthcare professional and I’m pretty confident make a better profit margin than you are now, selling OTC ‘sleep aids’.

Turn those self-presenting, sleep issue patients from a time cost into a ‘prospect’ (horribly commercial word but you get what I mean).

And this all ties in nicely with ‘Healthy Living Pharmacy’.

Go read Part 2️⃣ where I get serious about insomnia.

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