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Let's Talk Life - Why can't I sleep?

Published:Saturday | January 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Dear Counsellor,

I have a problem that's been going on for a year now. I have difficulty falling asleep at nights and I am unable to sleep throughout the nights. Whenever I am awake at nights, I think of all my problems and everything seems catastrophic in the dead of the night. I would like to get some sleep at nights.

- Sonia

Dear Sonia,

Sleep is essential to the adequate functioning of an individual. We need seven to 10 hours of sleep each night. Babies sleep for longer while the elderly sleeps for a shorter time. There are many reasons for the inability to sleep. Sometimes the individual is overstressed, depressed or anxious.

If an individual is having pain, then he or she will not be able to sleep well. Stress, depression and anxiety are common reasons why people can't sleep well at night. You need to examine your routine to identify stressors and issues that are causing you anxiety. The violence in society is causing great fear in people and this can cause you to lose your night's rest. The death of loved ones can interfere with sleep as we grieve the loss. Depression is a common condition and is easily treated. There are therapies and medications, which are effective in the treatment of depression. Many people have negative thoughts and ideas, which can interfere with getting peaceful rest at nights.

Some medical illnesses can present with depression and cause loss of sleep. Whenever an individual has a sleep problem, he should see a doctor for a physical examination and investigations. An annual physical is always a good idea.

Some individuals develop intense anxiety that interfere with their sleep. They need to be deconditioned about their anxieties, so that they are able to sleep at night. There are some simple things to do to facilitate sleep. Keep the bedroom sleep friendly by using pillows, linen and soft music that are sleep-inducing. Sometimes you need to make a list of the issues that need to be dealt with in the day. Having emptied your mind, you will be able to sleep.

Email questions and feedback for Dr Yvonnie Bailey-Davidson to or call 978-8602.