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For many, sleep is something taken for granted; but when adequate sleep is not achieved and sleep deprivation becomes chronic, it can have significant negative health outcomes.

Some of the common symptoms of disrupted sleep include:

  • Trouble falling, or staying, asleep
  • Feeling tired or sleepy during the day
  • Forgetting things, or having trouble thinking clearly
  • Becoming cranky, anxious, irritable or depressed
  • Having less energy or interest in doing things
  • Making mistakes or getting into accidents more often than normal
  • Worrying about lacking sleep

Actions you can take to improve your chance for a restful sleep include:

  • Restricting caffeinated beverages after lunch
  • Limiting alcohol near bedtime
  • Avoid smoking, especially in the evening
  • Adjust your bedroom environment to be dark, cool and quiet
  • Exercise regularly for 30 minutes or more most days of the week (preferably 4 to 5 hours before bedtime)
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule (go to bed and get up at the same times, 7 days a week)
  • Avoid prolonged use of light emitting screens before bedtime
  • Find some resolution to daily stresses (e.g. ralxing bath, calming music, going for a walk)
  • Sleep only as much as you need to feel rested, and then get out of bed

If you continue to experience symptoms of disrupted sleep, talk to your physician or PCN nurse for further suggestions and possible investigations such as testing for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder, in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. You may have sleep apnea if you have one or more of the following symptoms: snoring loudly, feeling tired every day after a full night's sleep, awakening with a dry mouth and headache. The main types of sleep apnea are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when throat muscles relax
  • Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, which occurs when an individual has both obstructive and central sleep apnea

If you think you may have any form of sleep apnea, talk to your physician or PCN nurse. Treatment can ease your symptoms and may prevent heart problems and other complications.


  • Arand, D. L., Benca, R., Bonnet, M. H., Eichler, A. F. (2016, August 26). Treatment of insomnia.
  • Corliss, J., Crowley, K., Elbaum, D. A., Long, G. J., Martin, K. A., Villalba, C. (n.d.). Patient education: Insomnia (the basics).
  • Lovig, C. (2012, June 20). Insomnia. Medicine Hat, Canada. The RxFiles (2001, May). Sedative patient information sheet.

Submitted by Cynthia Schafer, a Registered Nurse at Redcliff Family Practice.

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