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How to break the cycle of stress and bad sleep

Research has shown that there is a close connection between stress and sleep.

For some of you this can feel like a vicious cycle.

“Stress leads to a loss of sleep and a loss of sleep leads to an increase in stress,” writes Sherrie Bourg Carter in

The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified perceived feelings of stress – and as a result poor sleep.  
An estimated 1 in 2 Canadian adults have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep. And while there are a number of factors related to bad sleep, stress is one of the leading causes.
Many of you are facing an abundance of competing pressures like never before – adapting to new teaching and learning technologies, managing COVID protocols in schools, balancing life/work priorities, and the list goes on. 
There’s no doubt these are stressful and challenging times.
But it’s important to understand that good sleep is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity.
Sleep plays a critical role in our mental and physical health. It’s when our bodies have a chance to recharge. So, how much sleep do you need to feel recharged? Well, that’s up to you.
Experts recommend that you look at your individual needs, lifestyle and habits. The right amount of sleep for you may be different than for others. Try seeing what’s right for you by how you react to different amounts of sleep – how’s your mood and energy after six hours of sleep versus seven or eight. This can be a good indicator of how much sleep you need. 
To help you get a better night’s sleep, here are some tips1:

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before bed
  • Keep your bedtime and waketime regular
  • Stay active by exercising regular
  • Practice relaxation and mindfulness techniques

Don’t forget that you have control. Stress may be inevitable, but you can control how you approach and deal with stressful situations.
If you continue to struggle with feelings of stress and bad sleep, contact your health-care provider or local public health unit for mental health resources and support.
As we monitor the COVID-19 situation, we continue to provide you with plan information and resources. For more information on mental health resources or to access frequently asked questions regarding your benefits plan and COVID-related changes, visit
You can also  check your benefits booklet  to see which service providers are covered by your plan to support your mental health. Your benefits booklet includes benefit plan terms and coverage details, and is updated on a regular basis to reflect any changes or updates to your plan. If you need more information, that is not already covered in your benefits booklet or online, contact OTIP Benefits Services at 1‑866‑783‑6847.
This article is part of the Caring for your mental well-being campaign. Visit for more information on the campaign and upcoming activities.
Related article: Feeling stressed and anxious? You are not alone


[1] Are Canadian adults getting enough sleep?. Public Health Agency of Canada. 2019.

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