Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 01/31/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
It was a bad night. You didn't get to sleep until after 1 a.m., then you tossed and turned until close to daybreak. Yet here you are, up at 7 a.m., grumpy as an old bear.
You are not alone. Sleep -- or lack of it -- is a significant health issue in North America.
About 30 per cent of the population has disturbed sleep and 10 per cent meet the diagnostic criteria for insomnia. Insomnia is difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep, even when the person has the chance to do so.
At some point, most of us have experienced acute insomnia; for example, the night before an exam, worrying about finances or experiencing jet lag. It commonly tends to resolve without treatment.
Insomnia is considered chronic if it happens at least three nights a week for three months or longer. The consequences of chronic insomnia are varied and include impaired cognitive function, poor quality of life, increased incidence of bodily pains, poor general health, decreased job performance and increased risk of accidents.
Insomnia can be triggered by medical or psychiatric issues. Many cases of insomnia start with an acute episode, then evolve into long-term problems, mostly because the people affected tend to adopt unhealthy sleep habits such as getting up in the middle of the night or drinking alcohol before bedtime. Once the problem becomes more chronic, worries and concerns such as "I will never sleep" start to become associated with bedtime, which reinforces the cycle of insomnia.
This is why it is important to address insomnia instead of letting it become the norm. If you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, it is a good idea to review your sleep habits. Simple steps to improve sleep include:
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which includes psychological and behavioural techniques, can also be used to treat insomnia. CBT challenges unhealthy beliefs and fears around sleep and teaches rational, positive thinking. Relaxation training, breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation and guided imagery can help to calm the mind and induce sleep. Exercise and body-mind work, such as yoga, can also be very helpful. Some of these techniques can be self- taught, while for others it is better to work with a trained therapist.
If insomnia continues to interfere with your daily life, talk to your doctor to see if sleep aids might be right for you. The Winnipeg health region offers help through the Sleep Disorder Clinic at Misericordia Health Centre.
For more information, visit www.misericordia.mb.ca/Programs/SleepDisorders.html.
Dr. Eleni Giannouli is an assistant professor in the department of internal medicine, section of respirology, University of Manitoba, and an ABIM sleep medicine certified physician. She is the medical director of the Sleep Disorder Clinic at the Misericordia Health Centre.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2014 A17
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Woman charged in case of dead infants appears in court
Man arrested after vehicles, home damaged
Jets in a better mood after breaking losing streak with Tuesday's win
Selinger says he and Bowman share several priorities
Manitoba Muslims condemn attacks
Two arrested after officers assaulted
Shelley Hart new reeve of East St. Paul
Bowman drops by News Café
School trustee, municipal elections results
Brandon elects new mayor
New sheriffs for St. Andrews, East St. Paul
Second time's a charm for Gilroy
Warm weather likely won't last much longer
From activist to politician in St. Norbert
Orlikow exterminates high-profile challenger
Morantz aims to clean up city hall
Minister to preach at political pulpit
Bowman was able to grow
Schreyer skates to win over Steen
Out with old and in with new
The vote results
Police guard legislature
Maples soccer mom charged
Funeral honours both public and private life
Forensic probe may take months
Progressive candidates win big in WSD
Dramatic vigil held for six dead babies
Murder suspect slipped up during interview
Technological changes forcing MPI's hand: CEO