by: Dr. Karine Côté, D.Psy., C.Psych.
Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Do you wake up frequently during the night? Do you tend to wake up too early? Do you feel like your sleep is never really restful? You are definitely not alone! According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 30% of adults experience occasional insomnia, and 10% of the population suffers from chronic insomnia.
The impacts of sleep difficulties on our psychological and physical functioning are diverse. They can include mood fluctuations, increased stress and irritability, problems with concentration and motivation, low energy and fatigue, an upset stomach, and muscle tension and headaches. Fortunately, there are strategies that can help improve your sleep quality.
1. Practice sleep hygiene
Limit coffee, tea, and sugar intake after 3 PM. Eat your dinner and exercise at least two hours before your bedtime. Your bedroom should be comfortable and quiet, and try to limit looking at electronics, screens, and alarm clocks while in bed.
2. Implement a sleep routine
Maintaining a consistent routine throughout the week is vital. Ideally, your bedtime and wake-up time should be the same every day, even on weekends!
3. Limit time spent in bed to sleeping
Time spent in bed should be reserved for sleeping (and romantic activities) only. Activities such as watching TV or reading in bed can contribute to your sleep difficulties. It is, therefore, more beneficial to engage in these activities in a comfortable space outside of your room and go to bed only when feeling sleepy.
4. No napping
It is often tough to resist napping when we feel tired. However, to give you the best chance of sleeping during the night, eliminating any length of napping is essential.
5. Regulate your anxiety
Our sleep difficulties are often related to anxious thoughts that are hard to control. Writing them down before bedtime can help release anxious feelings, while also being reassured that your thoughts are not forgotten in the morning!
Consistently practicing these strategies will give you the best chance to overcome your sleep difficulties. However, if these tips do not work and insomnia persists, don’t be discouraged! Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) offered in psychotherapy can help you regulate your sleep and provide beneficial effects that last well beyond the end of treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Centre for Interpersonal Relationships for support – it is time to prioritize your sleep and regain restful nights!
Dr. Karine Côté, D.Psy., C.Psych. is a psychologist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR). Dr. Côté provides psychological services to individual adults and couples experiencing a wide range of psychological and relationship difficulties related to mood and anxiety disorders, trauma, eating disorders, sleep disruptions, and interpersonal betrayal. She works from a humanistic approach and integrates therapeutic techniques from gestalt and object relations psychotherapies, emotion-focused therapy (EFT), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).