Blog - Spotlight on Excellence: KHSC Sleep Lab Helps You Rest Easy

Improving the quality of your sleep is arguably the single most effective thing that you can do to reset your brain and recharge your body. Sleep can help you physically heal, recover from illness, deal with stress, solve problems, consolidate memories and improve motor skills. Yet many people just aren’t getting enough good-quality sleep.

Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Sleep Disorders Laboratory perform s sleep studies on more than 1,200 patients a year, with many more seen by the Sleep Disorders Education Centre’s other clinics. Many patients require medical interventions for sleep-related respiratory disorders, while others just need help with their sleep-related habits, daily routines and addressing any daytime symptoms.

“Good sleep health starts with good sleep hygiene, which is defined as the behaviours that one can do to help promote good sleep,” says Dr. Sophie Crinion, Medical Director of KHSC’s Sleep Lab. “Even people who don’t suffer from any respiratory issues can benefit from being mindful of these, as it relates to their overall health.”

Two major behaviours to consider when seeking regular and good-quality sleep include making sure you have a consistent sleep routine in the evening, which includes going to bed at a fixed time, and turning off your electronic device at least an hour before bed.

“A regular bedtime routine is more important than waking up at a regular time in the morning,” says Dr. Crinion. “The ‘blue light’ from device screens also suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone which makes you sleepy.” 

Dr. Crinion continues, “If using your device delays bedtime by just thirty minutes per day, across a year that’s a huge amount of sleep deprivation. Most devices now have very good processes for setting up reminders to put your phone down. This is great for establishing healthy routines and habits.”

Exercise, caffeine, alcohol and large meals should also be avoided late in the evening. They should be replaced by a routine for winding down before bedtime which might include warm baths or showers, meditation or quiet time.

“We need to make sure people have enough physical exertion during the day to make sure they’re healthy and physically tired at bedtime but intense late night exercise may delay your ability to feel sleepy, shortening overall sleep time,” says Dr. Crinion. “Busy people also often get into the habit of eating and exercising late in the day before bed which should be avoided if possible.”

If you are having sleep-related issues, consider speaking with your doctor. They can advise you regarding any medications that might be inhibiting your ability to sleep, review your daily habits and offer practical advice to improve your sleep quality. If needed, your doctor may refer you to a Sleep Physician at KHSC.