Did you know that insomnia takes a $20 billion bite out of the Canadian economy each year, most of it due to lost productivity and absenteeism among the sleep deprived?

A staggering 15 per cent of adults suffer from insomnia, meaning they have troubled sleep at least three nights a week. Another 32 per cent suffer from insomnia occasionally, meaning at least once a month. The balance, 52 per cent, are classified as good sleepers.

Those with insomnia spend $40.9 million a year on prescription medications and $5.6 million for over the counter products, like antihistamines and herbal teas.

Many insomniacs wait 10 or 12 years before seeking medical help. When they do most physicians tend to prescribe sleeping pills.

According to the research, Canadians spend just over a$1 billion a year on alcoholic beverages consumed specifically as sleep aides. Some become alcoholics.

I consider myself an expert on insomnia. When I was growing up in Ontario I slept like a baby. My problem started when I was sent to a strict Jesuit boarding school in another city and it has been with me off and on ever since. I have taken sleeping pills, spent time in a sleep clinic and used alcohol to self-medicate.

Now I figure I get about five hours of sleep a night which I can manage on quite nicely. I take an anti-depressant pill as a sleeping pill. It works well and is not addictive. Contrary to most advice I never get up at night no matter how restless I am.

Have you ever suffered from insomnia?

How did you try to deal with it?

What works for you?


My wife, Catharine,  and I are leaving early this morning for a month in Palm Springs, California.  We return to Montreal on February 2.   I received a laptop from Catharine for Christmas so I hope to continue blogging  in Palm Springs.

Best wishes to all again for a happy 2009.


  1. 1
    Chimera Says:

    I consider myself to be a lifelong insomniac, although my definition of insomnia probably differs somewhat from the textbook. Basically, I’m more active and creative at night, when the rest of the world is sleeping.

    Not. A. Morning. Person.

    When I was a kid, my family lived in Whitehorse, where, depending on the season, you got 24-hour daylight or 24-hour darkness. You got used to sleeping when the sun was shining and going to work/school in full dark. My father worked shifts, so we also got used to being really quiet during the days when he was trying to sleep. Later on, I got into the military myself, and also worked shifts. It was a natural thing for me to be awake at night…I’d been “practising” for it my entire life!

    Being an introvert also probably has something to do with my preference for late nights. They have the solitude I crave. Nobody around to put demands on my time and energy. Bliss!

  2. 2
    Joe Agnost Says:

    I could fall asleep right now – sitting upright at my desk. It’s a talent I have that drives my wife NUTS when we travel by plane. I can sleep anywhere at any time. I can sleep for 5 minutes waiting to checkin. I get on the plane and am asleep before we take off usually waking when we land. My wife is so bored of watching me sleep.

    Sorry Neil… 😉

    I have 2 young kids (4 and 6) and my son has me up between 6:30-7:30 everyday. Because they keep my (and my stay-at-home-mom/wife’s) days SO busy we’re bagged an in bed (usually) by 10:00 every night.
    By my math that gets me about 8-10 hours of sleep a night!! I sure do like to sleep!!

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil writes:

    Did you know that insomnia takes a $20 billion bite out of the Canadian economy each year, most of it due to lost productivity and absenteeism among the sleep deprived?

    I doubt it.

    Several years ago I spent a Saturday afternoon in front of my computer googling the term lost productivity in an attempt to tally all the billions of dollars that sociologists claim are wasted due to this or that behaviour, illness, or bad habit. I came up with a figure larger than the Gross Domestic Product of most of the planet’s countries:



  4. 4
    exposrip Says:

    Wow, I have something in common with Neil and Chimera. I think I could count on one hand how many “good night” sleeps I’ve had. Truth is, I’ve been like this forever.

    Chimera, I’m at my most creative state from 11pm until at least 4am. My brain goes into overdrive. When I was younger and not working or in school it was no big deal. My best studying began at midnight.

    Alas, the world is set up such that you NEED TO BE SLEEPING during those hours to put in your shift.

    Therein lies the biggest problem I’ve ever faced.

  5. 5
    exposrip Says:

    That’s some list Tony.

    By the way, I use Melatonin when needed.

  6. 6
    Tony Kondaks Says:


    My brother swears by Melatonin.

  7. 7
    Peter LeBlanc Says:

    When I was younger I was a little like Joe, I could sleep anywhere, my wife says does that mean you slept around. Since I have been retired I am a morning person, I lay in bed thinking spiritual thoughts from 6am to 7am. When I get up at 7am, I am pretty active until 9pm when I have a hard time keeping my eyes open.

    I find it difficult in the summer when it is still bright at 9pm.

  8. 8
    Antonina Heuangvilay Says:

    There are many sleeping clinics in our area and i am glad that i can consult them for my sleeping problems. ..”*`

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