The following article has been provided by Dr. Joti Samra, a local clinical psychologist.
One-third of Canadian adults suffer from insomnia (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early). A number of factors can contribute, with stress being a primary culprit. What most people don’t know is that, independent of the stressors we are dealing with, we can make changes in our sleep routine and environment that can effectively enhance the quality of our sleep.
- Create a bedtime routine that is relaxing; have decaffeinated tea, warm milk, or a warm bath. Make a clear distinction between daytime (alert) activities and bedtime (relaxing) activities.
- Make your bedroom environment comfortable and conducive to sleep (e.g., get comfortable pillow and bedding; keep room temperature moderate; darken the room).
- Restrict your bed for 2 activities – sleep and sex. Do not watch TV, eat, talk on the phone, argue, or use your computer while in bed.
- If you can’t fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, get out of bed and do not get back into bed until you are sleepy (not just tired).
- Having a consistent, fixed wake-up time (even on weekends!) is one of the most important factors in building a consistent sleep pattern. Expose yourself to outside light (e.g., open blinds) upon waking.
- If you are having sleep problems, do not nap! Naps interfere with the restorative value of sleep later on that night. The best strategy is to get into bed earlier that evening.
- Do not have caffeine after 12pm – 1pm (the half life of caffeine is 5 hours – which means that 5 hours after having caffeine, 50% of the caffeine is still left in your body; it takes another 5 hours to have the caffeine be reduced in half, to 25%).
- Do not smoke or exercise 2-3 hours before bedtime.
- Limit alcohol intake as even one glass can interfere with sleep quality and makes sleep less restorative.
Reminder: UBC staff and faculty have extended benefits that provide $1200 coverage per annum to see a Registered Psychologist.
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych., is a clinical psychologist and organizational and media consultant. She is the host of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood” and was the psychological consultant to CITY-TV’s “The Bachelor Canada”. She has also served as a psychological consultant and expert to a number of other TV shows and news outlets. Dr. Samra maintains a clinical practice in Vancouver. Her website is www.drjotisamra.com and she can be followed @drjotisamra