Sleep: a cornerstone of good mental health therapy
Sleep. Is it overrated?
It does seem overrated during some periods of our lives. Can you recall periods in your life when you got so much done when you only slept 4 to 5 hours? Most of us can’t go without sleep for more than a few days without it catching up to us. If we don’t sleep we eventually loose it in some way or another. We lose our sense of judgment. We lose our tempers more easily. And, we end up wasting more time than if we had slept!!
Sleep is one of the structural beams (or functional boundaries) supporting our TRUE YOU Homes. My next blog will explain more about what that means.
As you know, our sleep habits change throughout the life cycle. Developing sound sleep habits at a young age helps. Creating bedtime routines for our children is the starting point. During our teen and college years our sleep cycles shift and often wreck havoc on our physical and mental health. Stress and traumatic life events will impact our sleep. And then the dreaded perimenopause, menopause, and male-o pause can negatively impact our sleep.
So, how do we remedy a poor sleep problem?
Here are some important questions to ask yourself regarding your sleep habits.
- Do you feel well rested during the day?
- How many hours are you sleeping each night?
- Does this vary from weekday to weekend day?
- Do you have any trouble getting to sleep?
- Does your mind start to race upon lying down?
- Do aches or pains prevent you from sleeping?
- Do you feel an urge to move around at night?
- Do you have any trouble staying asleep?
- If you awaken, how long does it take to return to sleep?
- Do you wake up gasping?
- What does your bed partner say about your sleep?
- Does he/she say you snore loudly or kick?
- How long have you had this problem?
- Do you feel like you’ve had a good night’s sleep when you wake up and throughout the day?
- Do you find yourself feeling drowsy and needing naps?
- Do you doze off at inappropriate times/places?
- Do naps help?
- Do you often miss the ending to movies because you cannot stay awake?
- Do you have a headache upon arising?
- In the evening, do you have an urge to move your legs, along with uncomfortable sensations in your legs, when at rest?
- Are you having difficulty with concentration or memory?
- Are you experiencing problems with mood (eg, irritability, depression)?
Talk to your Medical Provider if you answered yes to any of these questions.
It’s important to rule out underlying medical problems, many of which cause fatigue, depression and anxiety. Get your Vit D level, Vitamin B12, Thyroid, and Lipid Panel checked. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (read more here) applies to your personal health as much as it does your bank account. If you aren’t healthy, you can’t enjoy the life you’ve created.
Also, our drugs and alcohol use can impact our sleep quality as well. Is WINE a Food Group for you? See an earlier blog post about this issue. Wine, for instance helps us chill out at night and fall to sleep. Unfortunately, it can be the culprit for our early morning awakening.
Tips from the Trail: Sleep Hygiene Habits
- Sleep only as long as needed to feel refreshed. Usually 7 to 9 hours/night for adults.
- Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule, do not vary on weekends.
- Do not drink caffeine from at least 6 hours before bedtime and minimize daytime use.
- Do not smoke, especially close to bedtime or if you awaken during the night.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals in the late evening before sleep.
- Exercise regularly, but avoid vigorous exercise within 3 to 4 hours of bedtime.
- Minimize noise, light, and excessively hot and cold temperatures where you sleep.
- Avoid television and computer use in the bedroom, especially if you awaken in the middle of the night.
- Take a hot bath before retiring. Add in Epsom salt. It’s Magnesium and absorbed through the skin.
- Magnesium helps decrease anxiety. Look for magnesium products at your grocery store. CALM is one product you can drink at night. Be careful with the amount you ingest because magnesium can cause diarrhea. Ughh!!
Sleep tight so you can enjoy your days, and not miss the moments called LIFE.
Happy trails, Allison