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September 17th, 2016

How to get enough sleep?



How to get enough SLEEP?

As Autumn approaches, the air changes, our mood shifts, and our routines come back to life. The demands of daily life are upon us once again. In response to these demands, we may find ourselves reaching for comfort foods, coffee, alcohol, sugar, distractions, TV, and many of us sacrifice sleep as a way to cope. We may feel that sacrificing an hour of sleep in order to get more done is reasonable. However, even minimal sleep loss can have an impact on our mood, energy, focus, and ability to handle stress.

Most adults need 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep to function at their best. Imagine your sleep represents your body’s way of recharging, the way our phone needs recharging (at least mine does). If we don’t get the proper charge, we burn out more quickly or need a reboot more often during the day. The restoration that occurs during sleep keeps our bodies and minds functioning well and over time, the health benefits are enormous. Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.

Keep in mind that a good sleep routine actually increases your productivity so you don’t have to choose between the two. A good nights rest means a more joyful, energetic, creative day.

Here are a few tips for helping you get more shut-eye:

  1. Make sleep a priority. This means saying NO to other demands and putting your needs first. For some people this is easy, but for some this is a challenge. Try to remember that you’ll most likely get more done anyway if you get proper rest.
  2. Make a soothing bedtime routine and stick to it. Think back to when you were a child. Did your parents create a bedtime routine – Bath, brush teeth, books, cuddles, lights out. If not, try doing it for your adult self. Adults need similar things to settle down. Modify your routine to include cleansing (face, teeth, shower, bath, whatever), a review of the day (you can journal or just jot down ideas for the next day), something soothing (reading an easy book, cuddling with your pet or spouse, meditation or relaxation recordings), and lights out.
  3. Don’t use screens 2 hours prior to sleep. Research now tells us that screens stimulate parts of the brain that keep us “awake”, even after we fall asleep. The quality of sleep is affected, and our biochemistry is thrown off. It’s a hard habit to break for some of us but the effort is well worth it.
  4. Use movement during the day as much as you can. Make movement as much of a priority as rest. They are the yin yan of our 24 hour day. Movement doesn’t need to be formal exercise. In fact, what we call exercise is only categorized as one type of movement in a vast collection of movement options. To learn more about types of movement and easy tips, check out
    A few examples are walking, squatting, hanging, and dancing. The more you move the better your health, mood, and your sleep.
  5. See a therapist for help. For some of us, implementing all the strategies above just aren’t enough and something is getting in the way of a good night’s sleep. If you have tried all you can and still have trouble, make an appointment with a therapist for further support. Having difficulty sleeping might indicate a higher than normal level of anxiety which is begin driven by emotional stress or trauma. Talk therapy can create space to work through these feelings and allow your mind to relax more fully. Alternatively, if you find yourself sleeping too much and still feeling fatigued you may benefit from talk therapy as well. Your therapist might suggest meeting with other practitioners for holistic care, depending on your symptoms.

For parents with small children, sleep is not always in your control. In these cases, prioritize sleep as much as you can and let your mindset be flexible. Take it one night at a time. Use your diet to help augment the impact of sleep loss by drinking lots of water, eating nutritiously, and try your best not to rely heavily on coffee and sugar.

In Conclusion..

On a personal note, during a very stressful time in my life a friend told me about a relaxation recording to listen to every night before falling asleep. It was incredibly helpful. There are many to choose from, but this is the one that worked for me: I did my best to limit the screen viewing, used comfortable headphones, and ahhhh.

I wish you all a fabulous, restful Autumn.


Andrea Skitch, MSW RSW, is a registered Social Worker, practicing psychotherapy in Bloor west village at Ohana Wellness Clinic (416) 820-8588. Her studies at the University of Toronto focused on health and mental health. She has gained clinical experience and training in the areas of somatic therapy, trauma therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and couples therapy. She has a personal interest in mind body connection, relationship connections, and postpartum depression.  Many of Andrea’s clients notice an improvement in their sleep with the help of counselling. Book your consult today to address counselling for insomnia. 

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