Virtually everyone has experienced a night like this. You lie in your bed waiting to fall asleep. It doesn’t come and instead you change positions, stare at the ceiling or silently count down the number of hours you have left before you have to get up and get ready for work.

One night of disrupted sleep can throw you off for a day or two, but for many people the same thing occurs night after night after night.

Sleep disturbance is an almost universal accompaniment of psychiatric disorders. Occasionally these disorders can cause excessive sleep, but most often it is insomnia.

Insomnia can mean difficulty falling asleep but can also mean difficulty staying asleep, waking early or feeling un-refreshed in the morning.

Studies indicate that between nine and 19 percent of the population suffers from insomnia at any given time. Most people experiencing this problem find it very distressing and it is one of the most complained about symptoms in disorders such as depression or anxiety. Other medical disorders commonly associated with insomnia include coronary artery disease, hypertension and musculoskeletal disorders. And of course, it can also occur independently of other disorders.

Apart from the distress it causes, insomnia is associated with a number of other negative effects. Lack of sleep is linked with daytime impairments including fatigue, increased risk for accidents, decreased cognitive functioning and difficulty in relationships. Significant increases or decreases in normal sleep patterns are also associated with substantially increased death rates.

Since no one likes to go without sleep, people experiencing insomnia often seek a remedy either on their own or with the help of a doctor.

Many people choose over the counter sleep aids or other medications with sedating side effects such as gravol or antihistamines. Others attempt to use marijuana or alcohol to bring on sleep. Unfortunately, these remedies will usually only work in the short term if at all and can lead to other problems. Some are dependency forming and can become a bigger problem than the original sleep problem.

Sometimes, lifestyle strategies can help to alleviate insomnia. Common tactics include avoiding caffeine, not eating or consuming alcohol before bed, avoiding strenuous exercise or other stimulating activities before bed, reserving your bed for sleep and not using it for watching TV, working or eating.

Developing a consistent bed and waking routine is also important. If you must do shift work, you experience jet lag, or commonly sleep during the day, it is very common to experience night time sleep problems.

If there is no underlying disorder causing the insomnia and behavioural methods are not working, sleep medication is often recommended. When choosing the appropriate medication, the goal is to find one that keeps you asleep for six to eight hours without causing drowsiness in the morning. Available sleep medications generally differ in their length of action and in how quickly they take effect.

Many medications are available. Some are designed specifically as sleep aids while others may be used because they happen to have a sedating side-effect while actually designed to treat another condition such as depression or anxiety.

Research continues to search for better medications since there are many people who do not find current treatments effective.

When testing new treatments, clinical trials test whether the new drug is actually an improvement over existing treatments in terms of its effectiveness and how well it is tolerated.

Okanagan Clinical Trials is currently looking for people experiencing primary insomnia for at least the past three months. Eligible individuals typically take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep at least three nights each week, sleep less than six and a half hours three nights a week and are distressed or experiencing difficulty functioning because of their sleep disorder. For more information, contact us at 862-8141 or by email at


Current Studies

 Alzheimer's Disease 


 Parkinson's Disease





 Interested in participating? Call us for more information!