I Can’t Sleep!!….Now What?

A few facts and tips about sleep…

Insomnia is…. when you have a hard time falling asleep, or difficulty falling back to sleep after awakening in the night, or are not getting much energy from your sleep.

 Sleep is a necessary and very important part of daily life. Even though it is so important, many people wake up thinking:

 “That was the worst sleep ever, how I am supposed to have a good day now!?”

 Many different things that are happening in our lives can disrupt our sleep. The most common reasons we are not getting enough quality sleep are:   having a busy brain at bedtime; stress (whether we are conscious of it or not); diet; not enough physical activity; and our health/nutritional status. Sleep researcher, Richard Bootzin has outlined a list of behaviours that will help facilitate restful sleep:

  • avoid caffeine after lunchtime
  • avoid alcohol for 3 hours before bedtime
  • avoid looking at the clock
  • avoid long naps during the day  (if you do nap, it is best to keep them to 10-20 minutes)
  • get up at the same time every day
  • have a bedtime routine
  • use your bed only for sleep  (do homework at a desk; watch T.V. in a different room)
  • if you haven’t fallen asleep after 20-25 mins, get up and do simple tasks that will calm your mind so you can then return to bed and rest.

If all you can think about is crawling back into bed for “just a little bit longer” and would like to learn more about the sleep cycle, bedtime relaxation techniques and how to create good sleep habits to decrease insomnia, the “Better Sleep Program”  begins October 1.

To find out more information visit www.uoguelph.ca/~ksomers or call 519-24-4120 ext. 52662

If only it was this easy for everyone to sleep…..



Mindful Minds

What is mindfulness, and how can it help you?

 If you feel stressed and need a change in order to be more successful and focused, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) could be for you. MBSR is a great way to learn about your body and mind, while reducing the amount of stress in your everyday life. 

Mindfulness is defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as  “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”  This definition is often used as a guideline, noting that mindfulness is a type of meditation that brings your attention to the present moment, your conditioned mental habits/thoughts and intentional ways of being in the world.

Mindfulness can relieve stress through increasing:

  • Attention regulation
  • Body awareness
  • Emotion regulation
  • Sense of self

 The combination of these aspects allows the mind to create a desired sense of overall wellbeing and calm. This form of meditation will help you to ease worrying and increase your resiliency in stressful situations. Taking as little as 10 minutes out of your day to practice mindfulness and meditation can be an effective way to both manage and decrease your stress level.  

 If you are interested in learning more about Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, and beginning practice, there are several places in the Guelph area that can provide more information…

Mindfulness Resources in Guelph and Area

In addition to this, there are guided meditations available online.  For example:

  • How to meditate in a moment

  •  And if you have time for a longer mindful meditation, here is one with Jon Kabat-Zinn


Some Mindfulness Apps:

  • www.Mentalworkout.com – Structured 10, 15 or 20-day tutorials, short guided meditation lessons and additional events
  • www.Onemomentmeditation.com – Six guided meditations, tips on staying focused, relaxation exercise, calendar synchronization. Offerings are quick to use, additional information is helpful and lessons are targeted at beginners.

STRESSED is desserts spelled backwards!

Dark chocolate

Do you eat chocolate when you are stressed? 

The good news is that chocolate can be good for you!   Dark chocolate contains antioxidants.  And dark chocolate (not white chocolate) lowers moderate levels of high blood pressure in older people.   Today is International Chocolate Day and its fine to celebrate with a few pieces of dark chocolate

If you tend to get carried away and eat more and more when you’re under stress, it’s a wise idea to break this habit! Emotional eating is a common response to stress. It’s an effort to change the sensations of tension, anxiety, butterflies, and discomfort. Some people mistake the feelings of tension in their stomach for feelings of hunger. And if you’re eating while you are studying or watching TV, you often have no idea how much you have eaten (“mindless eating”).
It is possible to learn self-regulation strategies that don’t involve consuming food to decrease stress sensations. To shift from too much chocolate (and chips and doughnuts and desserts and…) to more effective skills in coping with stress:

  • eat more mindfully (avoid doing other tasks while you’re eating, eat slowly, and savour the food)
  • learn to distinguish between real hunger and false hunger (tension around the stomach)
  • and develop some relaxation strategies that relax the tension in your body and around your stomach.

To help you get started, check out the programs coming up at the Stress Management & High Performance Clinic this fall:

  • Relaxation and Stress Management Skills Training
  • Better Sleep Program
  • Decreasing Headaches (for tension and migraine headaches)
  • Stress Less for Tests
  • Stop Worrying!
  • Diet, Stress, and …. IBS! (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

For more information on these programs visit www.uoguelph.ca/~ksomers.

Yes, you can learn to relax your body, calm your emotions and your stomach!
It just takes practice.