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URMC / BHP / BHP Blog / November 2016 / Sleep … It just can’t be overrated

Sleep … It just can’t be overrated

By: Rebecca Kalinowski, LMSW

Sleep… It just can’t be overrated

At some point in most people’s lives, sleep can become elusive. People may find that they are struggling to get to sleep, waking frequently throughout the night or prematurely awake in the morning, and struggle to get back to sleep.  Some research shows that at any given time approximately 35% of adults complain of insomnia symptoms.

Insomnia can be linked to numerous causes including sleep disorders (such as Restless Leg Syndrome), medical conditions and substance abuse. Insomnia has also been strongly correlated to increased stress and mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.

For those struggling with mild, short-term insomnia, some basic sleep hygiene changes may help to improve the quality and duration of sleep. The following are guidelines you may find helpful.

  • Do not linger in bed. If you are awake, get out of bed. The time you spend in your bed should come close to matching the amount of time you are actually asleep.
  • The bed should be reserved for sleep. Do not engage in waking activities such as eating, reading, checking emails or watching TV. This can create an unhelpful association between your bed and being awake. Try engaging in these activities in another part of your home, and head to bed when you are sleepy.
  • Avoid the use of electronics with screens that would be within six feet of your face. Research has shown that blue and red spectrum light promotes wakefulness and may interfere with the body’s ability to prepare for sleep.
  • Reduce or eliminate: daytime napping, caffeinated beverages in the evening, nicotine use, eating heavy meals within 2 hours of bedtime, drinking a lot of fluids before bed.
  • Free your sleeping area of clutter or reminders of daily stress. Enhance the comfort of your room by adding blackout curtains, carpeting and comfortable bed linens.

Help is available if symptoms of insomnia become chronic or begin to impact your daily mood, functioning or performance. Your Primary Care Physician may be able assess any potential medical problems. The Strong Employee Assistance Program can help evaluate your needs. And remember that Behavioral Health Partners is available for eligible individuals with mental health services for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Behavioral Health Partners and the Strong Employee Assistance Program are brought to you by Well-U.

For further information on sleep disorders and insomnia, visit:


Figueiro M, Bierman A, Plitnick B, Rea M. Preliminary evidence that both blue and red light can induce alertness at night. BMC Neuroscience 2009;10(1):105.

Steven P Brown | 11/8/2016

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