Do you suffer depression or have unstable mood, problems with your appetite, weight, or chronic pain? If so, how you much sleep do you get per night? – Probably not much or as much as you need.
In fact, it is estimated that approximately 70% of Americans are sleep deprived.
In my counseling practice I work with many clients who are trying to improve their mood and increase their ability to control their behavior with food, alcohol or decrease reactivity when angry or having strong feelings. They are getting just a few hours per night. Five or six hours just doesn’t cut it!
I often hear that people do not have time to sleep or that they cannot sleep – Either way, lack of sleep impacts our ability to function safely and effectively.
How can we expect to feel well and perform through the day if we do not sleep well enough at night?
There are quite a few “sleep deterrents” as I call them, which contribute to ongoing sleep problems.
Some of these include:
– Staying up too late surfing on-line instead of going to bed.
– Completing last minute procrastinated tasks
– Catching up on work email or projects.
– Texting, emailing and social media activity.
– Watching television and “tuning out.”
– Eating too late with no time to digest.
– Anxiety and worry about the next day or “life” in general.
Technology is a big culprit! Without solid boundaries, it steals time and can interfere with self-care. It also creates an illusion of connection between people, and we are social creatures – We tend to get drawn in!
I recommend that my clients to shut off all technology about 1-2 hours before bedtime – including television. Replacing technology with pleasant music, aromatherapy, candles or some other soothing sense based ritual can be helpful – And, of course, to do them repeatedly over time.
It takes time to learn to calm down and wind down.
There needs to be time to prepare for sleep – This is called sleep hygiene. These are the habits throughout the day and the time before bedtime that set the foreground for healthy sleep. It is about creating a mind-set of sleep.
Being aware of the impact of sugar, caffeine, alcohol on the ability to sleep is of key importance – Cut these out before bedtime. Also, that technology is stimulating and has a bigger effect on the ability to sleep than we might think.
All of these small changes add up to better health as sleep is just as important as food!
Sleep is medicine. It is a restorative process which keeps the human body maintained and “tuned” in order to be able to function safely and effectively. During the night we are going through stages of sleep whereby the body is recalibrating biochemically, which helps the body reset and be ready to interface with the challenges of the next day.
Lack of quality sleep can impact the quality of our lives. In fact, it can create as well as worsen many problems – It can decrease resiliency and make conditions ripe for impulsivity, moodiness, relapse on alcohol, and food cravings. It can also contribute to other problems with blood sugar, heart and more.
When we sleep through the night that important body functions are happening. The body is replenishing and repairing itself. Part of this process involves the natural lowering of the stress hormone cortisol. This helps us be able to be refreshed and recharged and ready to take on the challenges of the next day.
Lowering cortisol is also necessary to be able to have behavioral control over our impulses. It also has an impact on metabolism and weight control. If we do not get adequate sleep, we are more likely to gain weight.
So, if you are not sleeping well – What’s keeping you up at night?