Ask a counsellor-Can’t sleep!

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I haven’t been sleeping well at night! What can I do?

If this has been happening because of those “weird” dreams that you’ve had since you turned 13, you’re probably looking at the wrong column. However, if you are having difficulties falling asleep, or are waking up much earlier than you normally do, keep reading.

Sleep is an odd thing and we need to remember that a few nights here and there of less-than-perfect sleep is completely normal – as is taking up to 30 minutes to fall asleep. Recent studies have shown that it is also very normal for people to wake up naturally about three to four hours after falling asleep. Historically, people would take advantage of this time to read, do some chores, have sex, or generally mill around for about half an hour before going back to sleep for another two to three hours. With this in mind, try not to stress yourself out about waking up in the middle of the night!

That being said, there are quite a few things that can interfere with a good night’s sleep, at either end. Try not to eat anything at least one hour before going to bed; if you really must eat, avoid meat and cheese as much as possible. In that same time frame, avoid any sort of screen time – TV, computer, etc. – opt for reading, talking, or doing chores instead. During the day, try to stick to a regular eating routine; your habits during the day (e.g. a late breakfast) affect your nighttime schedules (e.g. late sleep). Finally, ensure that you are using your bed only for sleep or sex; studying in particular should happen outside of the bedroom. By doing this, your body is associating only sleep and sex with your bed, rather than studying or other activities, which can make your body feel ready for a study session, rather than feeling ready for some rest

If you feel that your sleep has worsened considerably, or that it has been many weeks since you have had a decent rest, consider talking with somebody. Contact a counsellor on campus (sjcounsellor@unb.ca), or alternatively the Student Health Centre (behealthy@unb.ca) to speak with a professional about other options available to you.

Have a question for a counsellor? E-mail it to sjcounsellor@unb.ca to see it featured here!