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Sleep Psychology 101

Chris Rozell is a Registered Provisional Psychologist with Peak Medical Specialty Centres, specializing in sleep psychology.

He developed his passion for studying the nervous system through his experience working with families and individuals living with developmental disabilities and brain injuries.

Chris has also done extensive work in looking at how people react physically to certain stressors in their life (biofeedback), as well as monitoring people’s brain activity when under stress.

Throughout his clinical work, Chris has noticed that many patients seeking support with cognitive and emotional challenges also struggle with sleep issues. Providing a holistic approach to wellness, Chris continues to develop innovative biofeedback protocols to improve sleep.

We sat down with Chris to learn a little more about how we “think”, impacts our sleep, and to get a few tips on how we can improve the quality of sleep we’re getting each night.

What is sleep psychology?

Sleep psychology focuses primarily on how our thought process and behaviour impacts a person’s quality of sleep. It also deals with how sleep affects our ability to function in general.

What are some common reasons people have trouble sleeping?

There are four general factors that impact a person’s sleep.

The first is the set of genetic factors that influence an individual’s general state of vigilance. Some people have a tendency to have more sympathetic nervous system activity, which increases alertness in general.

Second, environmental factors of many types can reduce our ability to fall asleep, or stay asleep. These can include noises and other forms of daily stimulation (e.g. light intake).

Third, our daily behaviours have a strong impact on sleep. For example, variables related to exercise and diet can both increase and decrease our ability to sleep. Additionally, illness and injury can reduce sleep as pain and other symptoms can wake us up or prevent sleep onset.
Finally, our conditioned responses can both improve or decrease our ability to sleep. As stressors invoke increasing amounts of anxiety, sleep tends to suffer. Alternatively, as a person clears his/her mind and looks forward to the comfort of the sleep environment, the body can naturally initiate the sleep cycle.

What are some things people can do to help with those sleeping issues?

Many of the behaviours suggested in the previous question can improve sleep. Exercising/stretching, eating a balanced diet, developing a consistent sleep routine, actively managing stress, controlling environmental factors (e.g. preventing pets from disturbing our slumber), can all have positive effects on sleep.
There are also behaviour strategies, thinking strategies, physiological strategies, attention strategies, and environmentally based strategies that can promote a restful sleep. Making an appointment with a sleep psychologist is a great way to learn more about these strategies,

In what way does sleep impact a person’s mental state?

Quality of sleep is directly related to so many aspects of a person’s daily life. Memory, focus, vigilance, and energy, among others, rely on a good night’s sleep. Even our immune system can be altered by changes in sleep.


If you’re having trouble sleeping Chris Rozell may be able to help you understand why. To make an appointment with Chris Rozell, call : 403-265-8126.

No doctor referral needed.