Behavioural Sleep Medicine is a non-drug, evidence based, individualized, and patient-centred program which addresses the most impactful behavioural, psychological, and physiological factors that interfere with your sleep. Our Behavioural Sleep Medicine Specialists collaborate with our sleep team to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the diagnosis, management, and treatment of the following sleep problems for adolescents and adults.

Behavioural Sleep Medicine is an effective treatment for:

Insomnia | Difficulty tolerating CPAP treatment for sleep apnea | Recurrent nightmares | Shift Work related sleep problems | Circadian Rhythm Disorders | Psychological dependency on sleep medications

Don’t let sleepless nights ruin your days.

Our Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist, Medical Director, and Centre physicians all work together to provide you an interdisciplinary treatment for insomnia.

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About the program

Our program consists of two to six, 30-minute sessions with a Behavioural Sleep Medicine Specialist and is covered by Alberta Health and Wellness at no cost to the patient. We help you attain success and confidence in managing your sleep, so you can focus on living a full life.

Program components

CBT-I is the most effective first-line treatment for chronic insomnia. It is also helpful for nightmares and difficulty tolerating CPAP therapy. CBT-I is an excellent option for patients seeking a non-drug treatment for their sleep problems, and for those who wish to taper off or reduce their sleep medication. The most effective approach may combine several methods, including:

  • Stimulus control therapy
    • We use specific techniques to reduce the arousal that stops you from having a deep and restful sleep. 
  • Sleep restriction
    • We use individualized strategies to improve the quality of your sleep and then increase the amount of good quality sleep that you can achieve. 
  • Sleep hygiene 
    • We coach you to develop and implement lifestyle changes that create a stable sleep routine using nutrition, physical activity, natural light exposure and other lifestyle and behavioural strategies. 
  • Relaxation training
    • We have a range of proven methods for helping people relax and gain the health benefits of relaxation.
  • Cognitive control and psychotherapy
    • We provide you with effective methods of managing your stress and worries to reduce the effect of anxiety on your sleep, rest, and recovery. 

This practice helps you reduce anxiety, increase body awareness, and to live more fully in the present moment. Our mindfulness practice is built on 3 components:

Chronotherapy

  • This therapy considers your body’s rhythms or “biological clock” and aims to align bedtime, rise time and routines with your natural clock to support your sleep and daytime function.

Circadian entrainment

  • This therapy helps you synchronize your internal biological clock to external time cues so that you can adapt to a certain work or school schedule.

Bright light therapy

  • Light exposure is the strongest environmental cue to our master clock which affects our “other body clocks” that control body temperature, alertness, appetite, digestion, mood, sleep, and hormones. Light therapy is used to treat circadian rhythm disorders, jet lag and seasonal affective disorder.

Sleeping pills are effective for acute/short-term insomnia and the benefits last for several nights up to a few weeks. However, there is little evidence of lasting benefits after stopping sleeping pills or with nightly and long-term use.  All sleeping pills carry a risk of dependence. Their role is to help with cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) which has lasting benefits and is more effective for chronic insomnia. We provide an individualized approach for tapering off or reducing sleep medications when appropriate. 

The fears and negative emotions associated with bad dreams are treated by a technique called Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT-N). This process helps identify, confront, and gain control over the content of the nightmare.  Children, teenagers, adults, and older individuals can benefit from this technique. 

Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) incorporates a combination of techniques used in many other traditional psychotherapies. ART works directly to reprogram the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong physical and emotional reactions. ART accomplishes this through the use of rapid eye movements similar to eye movements that occur during dreaming. 

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Pediatric Behavioural Sleep Medicine

CFSHP currently offers Pediatric Behavioural Sleep Medicine for youth ages 15 and under. Our program treats common childhood sleep problems and is fully covered by Alberta Health and Wellness. We help your child attain success and confidence in managing their sleep, so they can focus on living a full life and enjoy restful sleep! At this time we can only accept physician referrals for pediatric services.

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