Psychology


Sleep Disorders

Problem description

Problems such as persistent difficulty with falling asleep, staying asleep, and early morning awakening define chronic insomnia. Additionally, problems with sleepwalking, night terrors, and chronic nightmares (or parasomnias), advanced or delayed phase circadian rhythm disorders, hypersomnolence, and restless legs syndrome, and dependency on sleeping medication are treated.

Services available

Assessment of the individual's problem, computerized treatment for some sleep problems, individual consultation, and group therapy are available. Individual therapy is rarely provided.

Description of services and treatment

Group Treatment Program

Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to strengthen an individual's ability to cope with sleep loss and to learn new strategies to enhance sleep. Cognitive behavioral therapy is provided in a weekly group, with 6 to 8 members, which runs for 6 weeks. The approach involves: self-monitoring of sleep; education about what constitutes normal sleep; help in identifying personal habits and cues that may be interfering with the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep; teaching of relaxation techniques for use when in bed; cognitive therapy (i.e., help in identifying and challenging the thoughts which may make a person more agitated and sleepless at night); and assistance with tapering off of sleep medications (for those who are interested in this option). Active participation is encouraged and individuals monitor their gains each week using a sleep diary.

Online Treatment Program

We offer a 6-week online treatment program for chronic insomnia for those who are interested in this option, who may have difficulty with traveling to the HSC, and/or who live in rural or remote locations. Organized into 6 modules, the program provides information about normal and abnormal sleep, help with increasing quality sleep through the initiation of behavioral and cognitive changes. The program is identical to the in-person group program except delivered online. All individuals must have high speed internet access to use this resource. As the program is relatively new, we are continuing to study its effectiveness. As a result, some people may need to wait 6 weeks to begin the program. Thus far, those who complete this program have been found to experience improvements in the quality of their sleep, the severity of their insomnia, and the degree of daytime fatigue experienced. Of those who complete this online program, 81% rate themselves as mildly to very much improved in terms of their insomnia. Individuals may use both online and in-person group treatment services.

Key Provider(s)

Norah Vincent, Ph.D., C. Psych.

Jeany Keates, Ph.D., C. Psych.

Maxine Holmqvist, Ph.D., C. Pysch

Sites

PZ-251, 771 Bannatyne Avenue,
Psychealth Center,
Health Sciences Center,
R3E 3N4
Telephone: 787-7424;
Fax: 787-3755

Availability

All Year Round

Referral process

Referrals from health-care professionals are welcomed.

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