Many of us have experienced the impact of a bad night’s sleep. But when sleep becomes an ongoing issue, it can cause disruptions in our ability to thrive in our daily activities and relationships.

Sleep issues show up in a variety of ways – including insomnia, frequent waking, nightmares, vivid dreams, or anxiety around sleep and rest.What’s more, sleep disruption can have a very real impact on our well-being.

Sleep plays a vital role in our physical and mental functioning. Short-term effects of poor sleep may include increased levels of stress and anxiety, mood disorders, somatic pain, cognitive and memory functioning, difficulty at work, and emotional distress. Long-term, studies show sleep deprivation contributes to increased risk for obesity, hypertension, heart attack, diabetes, and stroke. 

Symptoms of reduced or disrupted sleep

It is normal for our sleep patterns to temporarily change in moments of stress, conflict, or grief. Who hasn’t tossed and turned the night before a big presentation at work? However, you may be experiencing sleep issues if you consistently recognize the following symptoms:

  • It takes you a long time to fall asleep
  • You wake up and have trouble falling back asleep
  • You wake up too early and can’t fall back asleep
  • Day time fatigue/difficulty staying awake
  • Trouble focusing or performing at school, work, or socially due to feeling tired
  • You experience the above symptoms despite having the opportunity for a good night’s sleep
  • Stress and anxiety around sleep 

Types of sleep issues

Struggles with sleep can show up in a number of ways. Some of the most common include:


Insomnia: Persistent difficulty falling or staying asleep, or non-restful sleep, that impairs daily functioning and causes distress. Usually occurs at least 3 times a week. Chronic Insomnia is considered when present for 3 months or longer.


Nightmares: Frightening or distressing dreams.


Night Terror: Feeling of panic or terror upon waking without an identifiable source.


Sleep Paralysis: Temporary inability to move occurring right after falling asleep or waking up.


Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs with an irresistible urge to move them. 

How does counselling work for sleep issues? 

Numerous factors contribute to difficulty with sleep, including lifestyle, environmental, medical, and sleep disorders. Counselling can support you in understanding the factors that may be contributing to your sleep issues, breaking old patterns and habits, and replacing them with new approaches that work for you.


Some therapeutic methods used in working with sleep issues:


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBTi): Explore thoughts, feelings, and behaviours around sleep. These are then examined and reframed in a way that promotes restful sleep.


Imagery Rehearsal Therapy: Uses imagery rescrip=ng to change nightmares in a way that does not cause distress.


Accelerated Resolution Therapy: Relieve emotional distress related to sleep anxiety or nightmares.


Mindfulness-based practices: Breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and other techniques to help prepare for sleep by relaxing physically and mentally.

Calgary mental health services for sleep issues 

When we are struggling with poor sleep, we notice it in every area of our life. Understanding your sleep pattern can be useful in addressing other challenges such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and trauma. Restorative, restful sleep can help you feel like yourself again!


Monarch Psychology offers individual counselling both in-person and online with a free 15-minute phone consultation.


Contact us today for more information. 

Our Sleep Therapist

Anna Robertshaw