asleep,” he says. As a rural
family doctor, Samuels was
on call 24 hours a day for
several days in a row. Waking
up at the southern Alberta
lake sparked a fascination
with the mechanisms and
therapeutic value of slumber.
“The sleep state allows
our brains to eliminate waste
products and recover at the
cellular and metabolic level,”
Samuels says. Mind and body
are renewed while we snooze.
Several studies have shown
that inadequate sleep, even
if only for a few days, alters
the levels of hormones in the
blood that control appetite.
“If you shorten or disturb
SIX SIMPLE STEPS TO BETTER SLEEP
Cary Brown, a professor in the Department of
Her advice includes:
Occupational Therapy in the Faculty of Rehabilitation
Medicine at the University of Alberta, is passionate
about the recuperative power of sleep. She also
appreciates that many people have harried schedules.
“Some families are just running every minute,” Brown
says. “It doesn’t achieve anything to make them feel
So she helps her patients claim every additional
minute they can from their busy lives. “In my research
we look at practical changes that, together, can help
improve sleep and resiliency––even an extra 15 or 20
minutes of sleep is a good thing.”
• Get up every morning at the same time, including
weekends and days off. Even if you stay up until
2 a.m. and your usual wake up time is 7 a.m.
• Avoid vigorous physical activity (such as jogging or
cross-country skiing) within two hours of bedtime. It
will raise your core body temperature, which makes
it harder to fall asleep.
• Turn out the lights (or block the light if you sleep
during the day) and turn off (or block) sounds.
• For people who worry or are anxious, Brown
recommends listening to a talking book set on a
timer. This gives the brain something non-stressful
to focus on long enough that they can fall asleep.
• Try to understand what’s keeping you up at night.
It’s the first step to finding ways to sleep better.
• The Canadian Sleep Society ( css-scs.ca) also
recommends books and brochures that can help
you get a better night’s sleep.