Sleep Problems and How To Sleep Better!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 10, Number 10

Mental Health Awareness Week occurs every year in October. Since 1990, mental health organizations have set aside this week to increase awareness and educate the public about mental health and mental disorders. An estimated quarter of all Americans, 18 and over, or 26% suffer from a mental health diagnosis in any given year. Disorders can range from common mood disorders to anxiety and chronic mental illness such as schizophrenia. Anxiety is the most common with 40%. Almost one of every two Americans 18 years or older has an anxiety disorder. Mental health problems or disorders still carry a stigma which actually prevents many people from getting help. This week has been established to help destroy this stigma by educating the public and increasing awareness of treatment options.

This month’s E-Letter focuses on Sleep Problems and How To Sleep Better. Our email of the month is about Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow and our Ask the Doc question is about frustration from social rudeness. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the many comments we have received through the years.

Practice News

Depression groups. Our ongoing weekly depression therapy groups meet regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. The group is educational, supportive, and confidential and is limited to 8 people. A third and fourth group will be starting in a few weeks and if you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Eating Disorders Support Group. We are currently in the process of developing a support group for women ages 18-30 who are in recovery from an eating disorder. This group will work in conjunction with the patient’s treatment team to strengthen their recovery. The group will be led by Dr. Terry Newell and we are planning to begin in January. If you are interested in participating, please call Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Afterschool Tutoring. We are pleased to announce that we will be offering tutoring for students in grades 1 through 8 after school in our offices. Jill Kimmel, who is an experienced educator, will be helping students to understand and learn their academic concepts as well as provide assistance in doing homework. To find out more about our tutoring services as well as to schedule an appointment, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.

Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Our E-Letter this month focuses on getting good sleep. Many, many of our patients and others do not have good sleep patterns and rely upon medications such as Ambien or over-the-counter remedies to fall asleep at night. We live in a very stressful society in a very stressful world where we are constantly bombarded with things to worry about and expectations to meet. Having a good night’s sleep is imperative to good functioning at work and at home.

When people feel sleepy and it interferes with daily routines or activities or when sleepiness impairs one’s ability to function, it becomes a sleep problem. A person can also be sleepy yet not be able to fall asleep; while others may be sleepy without realizing it. People who have sleep problems consistently do not get enough sleep or the quality of their sleep is poor. They may fall asleep at work or even while driving. When watching television or a movie, they may struggle to stay awake. They may have difficulty concentrating or remembering and just not feel sharp. They can have slow responses and must take naps to make it through the day.

Sleep is a barometer of your overall physical and mental health. People who sleep well are usually in good health. Conversely, those suffering from sleep problems often have an underlying physical or mental health problem. Little or no sleep can adversely impact your energy, mood, effectiveness, and coping ability. Continued sleep problems can lead to weight gain, impaired health, accidents, poor job performance and relationship problems.

Types of sleep problems include:

  • Insomnia, which is the most common sleep problem, is the inability to get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested. It can be difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep with low energy during the day.
  • Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing stops temporarily during sleep due to a blockage of your airways. It leads to many awakenings during the night, interrupted sleep, and exhaustion and irritability during the day.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome causes the arms or legs to cramp, jerk, or move uncontrollably due to uncomfortable sensations. This also leads to exhaustion and irritability during the day.
  • Narcolepsy is excessive uncontrollable sleepiness during the day. It can occur while talking, driving, or working and causes the person to fall asleep abruptly.
  • Circadian Rhythm Sleep problems occur when our internal biological clock is thrown off or disrupted. This often happens in shift workers who work at night and sleep during the day. People with this problem feel groggy and tired and may get disoriented. This problem can lead to depression and other emotional disorders.

So, how to sleep better? It is important for you to understand how critical a good sleep pattern is to your overall functioning. Taking a pill to sleep is not a solution but a temporary measure while having good sleep hygiene is the best solution. Knowing your own sleep patterns and identifying your sleep problems is the first step to overcoming these sleep problems. A regular sleep routine and some lifestyle changes will improve your overall sleep patterns. The most important factor is to have a regular wake and sleep pattern daily. The following are suggestions to help you sleep better:

1. Keep a sleep diary that details your sleep patterns and includes information such as when you went to sleep, what you ate or drank beforehand, the quality of your sleep, the amount of sleep, etc.

2. Set up a regular, calming bedtime routine where you go to bed at the same time every night and prepare yourself for sleep.

3. Give yourself enough time to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

4. Avoid napping during the day as it can interfere with your sleep pattern; if you do so, do it earlier in the day.

5. Do not have meals, coffee, nicotine, or alcohol before sleep as they can stimulate you.

6. Relax and calm yourself through meditation or deep breathing exercises.

7. Exercise should be done early in the day not before you go to sleep.

8. Ensure that your bedroom is only a place for sleep and lovemaking and not a place to work, eat, or exercise.

9. Make your bedroom calm, relaxing, cool and dark at night with adequate exposure to daytime light which helps maintain your sleep cycle.

10. Have a regular routine at night to calm yourself rather than discussing upsetting issues or watching the news on television.

11. Write down any thoughts, tasks or ideas that might be troubling you on a pad or to-do list so that they don’t interfere with restful sleep.

12. Turn off all electronics so that you do not receive emails or texts that will beep and awaken you.

We offer the following information on Sleep Problems and How To Sleep Better:


Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together— Thomas Dekker


  • Getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important as it is a barometer of your health
  • It is normal to periodically have some trouble sleeping but regular sleeping problems indicate an underlying medical or mental health problem
  • Good sleep is necessary for energy, good moods, and the ability to handle stress
  • Poor sleep can lead to weight gain, physical health issues, accidents, impaired driving, impaired work performance, depression, and relationship problems
  • Signs of a sleep problem include feeling tired during the day, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering, difficulty staying awake, falling asleep while driving, impaired emotional control, and drinking a lot of coffee during the day to keep alert
  • While sleeping pills may help sleeping problems, they are not a permanent solution and may make sleep problems worse in the long run
  • Insomnia or not getting enough sleep is the most common sleep problem; it includes difficulty falling asleep, waking up often during the night, and having low energy
  • Sleep apnea occurs during sleep when breathing temporarily stops and is evidenced by snoring, gasping for air, and exhaustion after awakening
  • Restless Legs is a strong urge to move arms or legs when lying down that is due to uncomfortable sensations and is seen in cramping, flailing, or jerking legs while asleep
  • Narcolepsy is uncontrollable daytime sleepiness which may occur while talking or driving
  • Dysregulation of our Circadian sleep rhythms or our internal clock is another sleep problem manifested by feeling groggy, disoriented, and sleepy
  • Nightmares happen during REM sleep and are frightening dreams that can be caused by stress, anxiety, trauma, and some drug usage
  • Sleepwalking happens during Non-REM sleep; people can perform a range of activities while they continue to sleep

  • Understand the importance of having good sleep hygiene which is a series of habits and rituals that improves your ability to fall and stay asleep
  • Keep a sleep diary to identify habits that can be leading to sleep problems
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule by going to sleep and getting up the same time daily
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime pattern so that you are tired and ready for sleep
  • Turn off all electronics that may wake you during your sleep
  • Give yourself enough time to sleep, usually around 7 to 8 hours
  • Clear your mind of what you need to do by writing it down before you turn in to sleep
  • Establish your bedroom as a place for sleep and sex and make it quiet, dark, and cool
  • Avoid napping during the day and coffee or alcohol too close to bedtime
  • Exercise during the morning or afternoon and meditate or do yoga at night
  • Do not have a big meal close to bedtime
  • Ensure there is enough natural light; it helps maintain the sleep-wake cycle
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing
  • Do not be a clock watcher or pressure yourself to sleep if you awaken
  • Balance your liquid intake before sleep, not too much nor too little
  • Follow through and stick with these suggestions
  • Seek professional help to develop good sleep hygiene and a consistent sleep pattern
  • We Can Help!

    Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

    Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067

    Copyright © 2015; by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

    As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

    Ask The Doc

    KR writes: I find myself very frustrated a lot. In my job, I come into contact with a lot of people. It seems that now more than ever, people are discourteous. Few people say please or thank you. A lot of people have an “in your face” attitude and act as if they deserve special treatment. You wouldn’t believe how I see people cutting in line or arguing with other people just to get ahead. Why do these people think they are so special that they can be rude to others? More importantly, how do you think I should cope with my frustration?

    Dr. Joel Kimmel responds: Yes, I’ve heard you concern from many people and have even experienced it myself. It seems that there has been a shift in our culture/society towards entitlement and rudeness. It seems like the Golden Rule has been forgotten and many people seem to only care about themselves. While this is not true for many, many people, it does seem to have become the norm.

    I can’t explain to you why some people don’t seem to care about others and only about themselves. Is this because of the popularization of people promoting themselves through social media? Perhaps. Is this because our society’s leaders only seem to care about special interests whether they be liberal or conservative? Perhaps. Is this because we live in an age of affluence and a deterioration of social norms? Perhaps.

    In any event, you will need to cope with your frustration. Here are a couple of strategies. First, do not take these situations personally. They most likely are not meant personally and can happen to anyone. Secondly, understand that times and peoples’ social concerns have changed. You cannot apply expectations from a previous time to what is today without getting frustrated. Third, teach your children and discuss with your friends your intent to be considerate and courteous to others and ask them to be the same. Fourth, do not reinforce media or social media sites by watching or supporting rudeness. Fifth, try some relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, counting to ten, and mindfulness to reduce your frustration. Overall, if you change your expectations, you should lessen your frustration.

    Email of the Month

    We thank Richard L. for the following email:

    Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

    Today is the tomorrow I worried about yesterday
    And today was such a lovely day,
    that I wondered why I worried about today yesterday
    So today I am not going to worry about tomorrow
    There may not be a tomorrow anyway
    So today I am going to live as if there is no tomorrow
    And I am going to forget about yesterday.

    Today is the tomorrow I planned for yesterday
    And nearly all my plans for today did not plan out the way I thought they would yesterday
    So today I am forgetting about tomorrow and I will plan for today
    But not too strenuously
    Today I will stop to smell a rose
    I will tell a loved one how much I love her
    I will stop planning for tomorrow and plan to make today the best day of my life.

    Today is the tomorrow I was afraid of yesterday
    And today was nothing to be afraid of
    So today I will banish fear of the unknown
    I will embrace the unknown as a learning experience full of exciting opportunities
    Today, unlike yesterday I will not fear tomorrow.

    Today is the tomorrow I dreamed about yesterday
    And some of the dreams I dreamt about yesterday came true today
    So today I am going to continue dreaming about tomorrow
    And perhaps more of the dreams I dream today will come true tomorrow.

    Today is the tomorrow I set goals for yesterday
    And I reached some of those goals today
    So today I am going to set slightly higher goals for today and tomorrow
    And if tomorrow turns out to be like today
    I will certainly reach all of my goals one day!

    Till November…

    The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

    If you no longer wish to receive future E-Letter reminders, please send an email to requesting to be removed from this list.
    If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2015 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.