Sleep Problems

sleepy driver at the wheel of a car

Sleep is a critical part of our physical, emotional and psychological well being. It affects all aspects of our life: our health and well being, our moods and behaviour, our energy and emotion, our jobs and our family life.

There are many reasons why people may not get enough sleep: physical and emotional problems (i.e., worry, pain, anxiety, depression), lifestyle (excessive partying, drinking too much alcohol), poor sleep habits (irregular schedule), diet, life changes (i.e. a new baby) and environment (i.e., noise, temperature, etc).

Sleeplessness affects millions of Canadians whereby most individuals experience at least one episode of insomnia over their lifetime.

The amount of sleep an individual needs varies tremendously from person to person. If you are awakening in the morning tired and fatigued, you may not be getting a deep sleep or enough hours of sleep. At The Therapy Centre, we offer sleep hygiene strategies and other tools to help you regulate your sleep and awaken refreshed and rejuvenated. Below are some examples of how you can start to improve your sleep:

Ways to improve sleep

How Why
  • Get up at the same time each morning, even if you did not sleep well the night before (set your alarm clock).
  • To strengthen/stabilize your sleep-wake cycle
  • Can lead to a more regular predictable sleep onset
  • It is easier to control when you wake up and get up (wakefulness). It is difficult to control sleep onset.
  • Develop a sleep “ritual” (a set of activities that you routinely do before you go to bed).
  • To psychologically prepare yourself for bed.
  • To slow down and relax to promote sleep onset.
  • IF relaxed stay in bed. If within 20 minutes you feel frustrated, angry or tense about sleeping or other reasons, leave the room (do something you find boring or do a relaxation exercise).
  • If relaxed and comfortable, sleep will eventually come (boredom promotes sleep onset).
  • If tense, it is better to get up. You do not want to associate the bed/bedroom with poor sleep
  • The use of relaxation helps to avoid increased arousal.
  • Do not spend a lot of time in bed resting. If you must nap – do so at the same time each day and DO NOT sleep longer than 1 hour.
  • Spending too much time in bed or napping disturbs the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Perform a steady amount of exercise during the day or early evening, but do not try to sleep right AFTER exercise
  • Exercise during the day releases neurotransmitters that helps with sleep in the evening. Exercise too close to bedtime causes arousal that may interfere with sleep.
  • Decrease cigarette intake after 7PM and avoid smoking immediately before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine after 3PM and avoid more than 3 sources of caffeine per day.
  • Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that can affect sleep onset.
  • Use your bed for sleep only.
  • Doing many activities in bed may disturb your sleep – you tend to associate bed with many activities instead of sleep.
  • Think positively – focus on what you can do.
  • Thinking negatively can increase your arousal, making it more difficult to sleep.
  • Use relaxation techniques to help you get to sleep.
  • Being in a relaxed state promotes sleep onset.
  • Don’t use sleep medication on a regular basis.
  • Tranquilizers/sleep medications are not effective if taken regularly. Side effects often affect the overall quality of sleep.
  • Establish a “quiet time/problem solving time” during the day to address issues/concerns you think most of the time at night.
  • This technique helps keep thoughts positive and keeps the mind from “racing” at night.