holding a pillow

Having trouble sleeping? Here are our top 5 strategies to manage insomnia

What is insomnia?

A lot of people have difficulty sleeping from time to time, but insomnia is when someone has difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early at least 3 nights per week for at least 3 months. Another feature of insomnia is that the sleep disturbance causes a lot of distress or interferes with work, school, relationships, or other important activities.

How common is insomnia?

Most people know what it’s like to toss and turn while trying to fall asleep, especially when there’s a lot of pressure at work, school, or home. In fact, up to 40% of adults report at least some difficulty sleeping. Research shows that:

  • 6-10 per cent of adults experience insomnia.
  • Women are 1.4 to 2 times more likely than men to experience insomnia.
  • Insomnia is more common among middle and older age adults than among younger adults.
  • Younger adults typically have difficulty falling asleep whereas older adults typically have difficulty staying asleep.
  • The prevalence of insomnia is higher among people with medical disorders: 22 per cent among people with one medical disorder, 28 per cent with two medical disorders, and 34 per cent with three medical disorders.

Top 5 strategies to manage insomnia

  1. Wake up at the same time every morning, even on weekends. It feels great to sleep in, but this throws off your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to get your sleep back on track.
  2. Avoid napping, especially later in the day. Napping is ok if you need to stay alert to drive, but long naps rob your body of the sleepiness it needs to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
  3. Use the bedroom only for sleeping.Using the bedroom for “daytime” activities such as working, emailing, and watching television tricks the brain into thinking that the bedroom is a place to get things done rather than a place to relax. Moving these activities to another room will help your brain associate the bedroom with relaxation and sleep, which will leave you feeling more relaxed in bed.
  4. Go to bed only when you’re sleepy, and not before. Sleepiness is your body’s way of telling you that it’s ready to get into bed and fall asleep. Getting into bed before you feel sleepy won’t make sleep happen, it will likely leave you feeling frustrated as you lie there awake.
  5. Keep your worries out of the bedroom. We lead busy lives. When you’re constantly on the go, it’s not easy to find time to reflect on the day’s events until you’re lying in bed trying to sleep. Set aside time earlier in the evening to reflect on the day to help quiet your mind at bedtime.

Mind Matters Speaker Series

Hamilton Public Library has partnered with St. Joe’s to create a speaker series dedicated to mental health and wellness. The series will run throughout the month of February across HPL branches and is FREE for the general public. There are a wide range of topics for all ages ranging from memory and aging, managing big emotions and coping with anxiety.

Visit www.stjoes.ca/psychologymonth for full details.