‘I can’t sleep…..’
We all have sleepless nights at times: we may be worried about a particular issue, or our body is restless with excited anticipation. Others may keep us up with their needs during the night.
However, if you cannot sleep night after night and do not even feel sleepy. If you’re not able to nap during the day, despite skipping a night or two. If you fall asleep easily, but consistently wake up a few hours later and struggle to go back to sleep, or keep waking up. Even if you sleep, but do not wake rested and energetic for the day, you may have insomnia.
Insomnia is defined as persistent difficulties falling or staying asleep, waking up much earlier than wished for or finding sleep consistently unsatisfactory (‘non-restorative’) for at least one month. Common side effects are low mood, poor concentration, and other cognitive difficulties and tiredness. Insomnia is also a common problem, with up to a third of all adults reporting it at any one time.
Sleep disturbance is often viewed as a symptom of low mood, anxiety, worry, and painful physical health problems. However, it can be argued that insomnia in itself can play a major maintaining, if not the causative role, in the development of mood and anxiety problems. The fact that the need for sleep changes with age is not always easily understood or accepted by individuals. They may worry whenever they notice that they slept less during the night. They may also develop a distorted perception of their ability to perform at the level they wish to in their daily activities.
Therapy for Insomnia
In evidence-based therapy for insomnia, two models predominate: one that targets our thoughts and behaviours around sleep¹ and another that aims to effectively ‘re-set the sleep clock’². Both have been found to be helpful in their own right, as well as in conjunction with CBT (Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy) for comorbid conditions like depression and anxiety. Both are also used as part of the medical treatment of chronic insomnia.
At CMAP Health, we aim to provide evidence-based treatment for a wide range of conditions, including insomnia. We may collaborate with local sleep clinics in the near future and we have Psychiatrists in the team, who can help with a medication adjustment. Do reach out if you struggle with sleep.
About the Author:
Kirstine Postma CPsych
Kirstine Postma is a clinical psychologist practicing in Ottawa. She is trained in CBT, DBT, EMDR,
Interpersonal Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. She also works as a trainer and supervisor in CBT.
Kirstine specialises in the treatment of PTSD, using multiple evidence-based models.
- Harvey AG (2002): A cognitive model of insomnia. Behaviour Research and Therapy 40 (8), 869-893.
- Edinger J & Carney C (2008): Overcoming Insomnia A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach