People who experience Insomnia are usually not satisfied by the quality and quantity of their sleep. Insomnia can be experienced in different ways: difficulty falling asleep at bedtime (initial Insomnia), waking up frequently throughout the night (middle Insomnia), waking up early in the morning and having difficulty going back to sleep (late Insomnia), and not feeling well-rested despite having adequate amount of sleep (non-restorative sleep). This condition also makes it difficult for the person to function well. Insomnia may occur along with other mental issues or medical conditions such as Depression, Anxiety, Diabetes, or Arthritis.
- Forty percent of Canadians have at least one symptom of Insomnia and have sleep problems at least 3 nights per week.
- It is estimated that around 13% of Canadians currently struggle with Insomnia while 20% were dissatisfied with their sleep.2
- Ten percent of those who experience Insomnia used prescribed medications for sleep, 9% used natural products, 5.7% used over-the-counter products, and 4.6% resorted to alcohol use.2
- Thirty-seven percent of people with Insomnia had consulted a health care provider for their sleep problems. Seventy four percent of people consulted a family physician and 14.2% consulted a psychiatrist. Around 12% consulted other health care providers such as a psychologist.2
Behaviours associated with Insomnia:1
- difficulty falling and staying asleep
- dissatisfaction with sleep quality and quantity
- interrupted sleep and difficulty falling back asleep
- difficulty concentrating
- often feels fatigued
Feelings associated with Insomnia:1
Thoughts associated with Insomnia:
- “I hate when I lay awake thinking for hours and can’t fall asleep.”
- “I’m so tired during the day.”
- “I am doing everything that I should to get a restful night’s sleep but nothing seems to be working.”
- “Why is everyone, but me, able to sleep without any problems?”
Insomnia and the Body:1
Insomnia impacts your body in the following ways:
- Lack of energy
- Muscle tension or pain
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting, heartburn, acid reflux)
- Slower reactions and fogginess
Insomnia and the Brain:
A small number of interconnecting systems or centers located in the brainstem regulate sleep by activating and inhibiting one another. These systems include chemical messengers in the brain (neurotransmitters) including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Low levels of serotonin results in a reduction of sleep, whereas an increase in the levels of norepinephrine reduces sleep and increases wakefulness. Evidence also shows that dopamine has an alerting effect. An increase in dopamine levels in the brain tends to produce arousal and wakefulness.
Does Psychology Work?
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT has been found to be an effective treatment for chronic Insomnia. Studies found improvement in sleep quality, subjective Insomnia, restlessness, sleepiness, sustained attention, mood, anxiety, negative beliefs and attitudes about sleep, health status, and daytime functioning. Effectiveness of CBT also seems to be well-maintained over time which has resulted in significant improvements of symptoms.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR): EMDR has been found to improve nightmare disturbances, increase sleep efficiency, and reduce waking in the middle of sleeping. This type of therapy has also been found to be extremely helpful for trauma and anxiety-related Insomnia.
- Mindfulness Therapy (MT): Mindfulness meditation has been proven to be a useful tool for the treatment of Insomnia. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Insomnia (MBTI) have profound effects on sleep parameters and the person’s general sense of well-being. Evidence shows that MT improves subjective sleep quality, sleep disturbance, Depression, fatigue and daytime functioning.
- Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT): Research shows that EFT is effective in the resolution of marital and family conflicts. For people experiencing Insomnia associated with relationship issues, EFT may be able to help by addressing the root cause of the sleep issue.
Tips to Help Manage It!
Some tips to help manage Insomnia include:
- Establish more control over your bedroom environment at night by prohibiting non-sleep activities in the bedroom, such as watching TV, playing video games, or using your cellular phone.
- Practice mindfulness exercises before bed. Regular exercise will help you sleep better.
- Avoid daytime naps and establish a bedtime routine. Prioritize getting a good seven to nine hours of uninterrupted night time sleep and try to wake up at the same time every day.
Adequate sleep is essential for both a person’s physical health and well-being. People suffering from Insomnia have difficulty getting adequate sleep and this may be because of stress, Depression, Trauma, or irregular sleeping patterns. This lack of adequate sleep then makes it difficult for individuals to function well during the day. Creating a regular bedtime routine or sleep schedule and regular exercise can be a start that helps you regulate sleeping patterns. Hopewell Psychological can amplify your efforts by tailoring your treatment and using effective therapies for Insomnia, including CBT, EMDR, and Mindfulness Therapy.
*Psychologists are covered under Insurance Companies in Canada. You will need to check with your insurance company about the specific details regarding your coverage.
 American Psychiatric Association. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.” Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing. (2013). Print.
 Morin, Charles M., LeBlanc, Melanie, Belanger, Lynda, Ivers, Hans, Merette, Chantal, and Savard, Josee. “Prevalence of Insomnia and its Treatment in Canada.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 56.9 (2011): 540-548. DOI: 10.1177/070674371105600905.
 Sadock, Benjamin James, Sadock, Virginia Alcott, and Ruiz, Pedro. “Kaplan & Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry.” Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer. (2015). Print.
 Trauer, James M., Qian, Mary Y., Doyle, Joseph S., Rajaratnam, Shantha M. W., and Cunnington, David. “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Chronic Insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Annals of Internal Medicine. (2015). doi:10.7326/M14-2841.
 Brownlow, Janeese A., Harb, Gerlinde C., and Ross, Richard J. “Treatment of Sleep Disturbances in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A review of the literature.” Current Psychiatry Reports. 17.41 (2015). doi:10.1007/s11920-015-0587-8
 Maritres, Joanne, and Zeidler, Michelle. “The Value of Mindfulness Meditation in the Treatment of Insomnia.” Current Opinion in Pulmonary Medicine. 21.6 (2015): 547-552. DOI: 10.1097/MCP.0000000000000207
 Ahmadi, Fatemeh Solymani, Zarei, Eghbal Zarei, and Fallahchai, Seyd Reza. “The Effectiveness of Emotionally-Focused Couple Therapy in Resolution of Marital Conflicts between the Couples Who Visited the Consultation Centers.” Journal of Educational and Management Studies. 4.1 (2014): 118-123. http://www.jems.science-line.com/attachments/article/21/J.%20Educ.%20Manage.%20Stud.,%204(1)%20118-123%202014.pdf