Beyond Neighbours-Physician Directed Mobile Seniors Care Service

We’ve just recently had the daylight savings change. This can have a significant impact on sleep. And there isn’t a day in our practice where we come across problems with sleep. Lack of sleep is a common problem with all adults in our society but increases with age. This is attributed to the decrease in the amplitude of our circadian rhythms over time. Combine that with the demands and distractions of modern life, it’s not surprising that one in three Canadians are not getting enough sleep.

We are now finding more concrete linkages between lack of sleep and health issues such as immunity, mental health, diabetes, weight gain and cancer risk to name a few. Of particular interest to our interest group, routinely getting less than six hours of sleep increases the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is postulated to be related to an inability to get rid of beta-amyloid, a protein that has been linked to be involved in the development of Alzheimer’s. It is pretty easy to recommend that most adults need more sleep.

Here are some non-pharmacologic strategies to improve sleep:

Sleep Hygiene

  • Sleep at the same time every day. Same routine.
  • Avoid stimulating activities an hour before bedtime – TV, phones, video games
  • Avoid eating late at night.
  • Limit activities in bed to sleeping and intimacy.


  • Alcohol has a paradoxical effect. When it wears off, the brain becomes more stimulated. This wakes you up during your sleep.
  • Caffeine should be avoided after 3pm.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant.
  • Zopiclone (Imovane) – people become habituated to it.


  • Helps enforce proper day night cycles.


  • Write down your concerns into a worry journal before bed. This clears your head. Sounds hokey but there is evidence behind it.

Change Scenes

  • When you are awake in the middle of the night, do not stay in bed awake for more than 25-35 min. Get up and go somewhere else.
  • Break the association between being awake and in bed.


  • Keep the room temperature at 18 oC or 67oF –
  • A warm bath actually brings more blood to surface and evaporates heat bringing down the core body temperature.


  • Expose yourself light to bright light during the day.
  • Dim the lights by half the last hour before bed.
  • Avoid blue light (phones) before going to bed.


  • Keep naps shorter than 20 minutes and it will stop you from feeling groggy afterwards and not affect your night time sleeping.

Here is a useful TED talk on the subject.

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