Getting a better sleep is important for my clients health and mental health so I have researched and written this page for them.
Sleep helps restore you, gives your metabolism a boost, and aids in the consolidation of memories!
To get a better sleep, you don't just need to get enough sleep, and you also need to get quality sleep.
So how much is enough sleep?
Almost everyone needs 7-9 hours of sleep, or their functioning starts to decrease.
My clients who struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD or bipolar disorder are surely headed towards difficulty with their mood attention AND focus if they aren't getting enough sleep.
And if you have kids, you know the impact too little sleep can have on their mood. All I have to do is look at my teenager to know if he's had enough sleep.
TIP: It's safe to assume you need more sleep than you think you do.
I'm sure you've heard about how screens interfere with your sleep. But do you know why?
Our sleep quality is determined by our sleep-wake cycle. The circadian rhythm determines this cycle. Circadian Rhythm controls a lot. Hunger, body temperature, melatonin, activity level, and more. It's is a biological cycle that happens over 24 hours. The circadian rhythm is impacted by light, time your schedule, and melatonin. It's a complex interplay of biological functions.
Light and Dark control this cycle. The sun resets it each day, and melatonin is key to this cycle cued by the light and the dark and crucial to sleep. This amazing cycle is hardwired into our body and triggered by the rotation of the earth.
Light is essential here BUT not all light is the same.
Tablets, phones, computers, and fluorescent lamps emit blue light and disrupt this cycle dramatically. These things aren't natural to our body.
Electricity, which also isn't natural, has messed with this cycle. The invention of electricity disrupted this cycle altering the production of a hormone called leptin which is related to hunger suppression at night. This phenomenon has been tied to human diseases such as diabetes!
Back to the quality of sleep.
There are two kinds of sleep. Slow wave and REM. Slow-wave sleep restores the body and protects it from physical disease, while REM Sleep helps you recover mentally. Too much screen time can disrupt and fragment your arousal throughout the night, cause brainwaves and heart waves to fluctuate and stop you from reaching refreshing sleep. Both slow wave and REM are important to our mental and physical health.
Unfortunately, both REM and slow-wave sleep decrease with age.
This is a double whammy for women. Women can suffer from sleep issues through perimenopause and menopause. These issues impact 39-47 percent of perimenopausal women and 35 to 60 percent of postmenopausal women. Perimenopause and menopause can span women's mid 30's to when they are 60. So women can be impacted by sleep issues at higher rates than men.
Declining and fluctuating levels of hormones play a big role in this.
Progesterone and Estrogen are the two main hormones implicated. Progesterone can impact breathing and sometimes cause sleep apnea. Estrogen plays a role in the metabolism of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that affect our sleep-wake cycle. It can lower quality sleep by creating higher body temperatures ( hot flashes) and cause depression and anxiety, which can also cause sleep disruption.
Because our sleep cycle is so important it can impact every single area of our functioning. Every part of our body is interconnected in this cycle. Our sleep, our appetite, our mood, our sex drive. Taking VERY good care of our stress level, our mind and our body is a good way to start influencing how we sleep. SO is anything that creates predictability, stability and regularity in our daily cycles. These tips below are far from all inclusive but might be a good start for you.
1. Pick a regular bedtime. Find the time that works best with your body and schedule and try to keep it to see same time every day, making sure you aim for 8 hours.
2. Keep a consistent daily schedule
3. Screens can block the production of melatonin. To get enough melatonin, shut off all electronics at the very least hour and a half before sleep so you have enough melatonin to enter sleep.
4. Purchase screen goggles or glasses to block the light from screens. AMBER blocker glasses are the best.
3. Stop work at least four hours before sleep, so your mind is calm
4. Because our cortisol cycle is meant to decrease at night and be high in the morning, don't have stressful conversations in the evening or do stressful things at night. This will disrupt your sleep. Anything stressful should be done first thing in the morning so you can keep your body in a calm state and ready for rest.
5. Never exercise at night
6. Always open your eyes and get light first thing in the morning.
7. Block all light from your room so you aren't accidently activating the wake cycle when you should be sleeping.
4. Read a book before sleep. Reading fiction has been shown to decrease stress.
5. Download f.lux to block the light from screens
6. 50 percent of sleep problems are related to stress so practicing techniques that decrease stress help with sleep.
7. Use containment set aside time during the day to worry or problem solve. For example, from 9-930 am. When that time is up, you can remind yourself if problems come up to work on them or worry about them during your worrying time. During that time, ask yourself, is this a solvable problem or an unsolvable problem. If you can solve it, do, if you can, put it in the unsolvable column until new information comes in.
8. Analyze your time management strategies, and get help with them if they are increasing your stress
9. Learn about perfectionism and see if it is a source of your stress
10 Practice assertiveness skills this will decrease stress
11. Journaling daily has been shown to decrease stress.
12. Practice breathing exercises this will decrease stress by deactivating your sympathetic nervous system
13 Keep a gratitude journal this will decrease stress
11. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia or CBT-I is a highly effective treatment. Learn about it here.
12. Try not to drink alcohol before bed; it will interrupt the quality of your sleep and lead to you spending less time in a restorative sleep14 Keep the bedroom cool
15 Establish a bedtime routine that BEGINS IN THE MORNING. Think of your sleep as something you actively commit to such as your exercise routine. Controlling your light exposure, and working with your cortisol cycles all day long is part of that routine. Light first thing in the morning activates that cycle. Darkness and calm beginning when you stop working also is part of that cycle.
16 Meditate Before Bed
17 Don't drink caffeine or cut it off afternoon
18 Try to relax several hours, not just before bedtime with soft music, light reading or anything else that is calming or emotionally regulating. It takes hours for melatonin to be released.
19 Keep your Pets out of the bed
22. Trying to have good sleep hygiene and nothing works? CONTACT A SLEEP SPECIALIST IN YOUR AREA they can help you learn how to get enough sleep. You may have sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
References for how to get enough sleep
Badali, M. (2014, How to use the power of your mind and body to reduce stress and sleep better. Visions: BC’s Mental Health and Substance use Journal, 10, 21. Retrieved from http://nclive.org/cgi-bin/nclsm?url=http://search.proquest.com/magazines/how-use-power-your-mind-body-reduce-stress-sleep/docview/2231524103/se-2?accountid=13217
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Medical information obtained from this website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a problem, you should consult a healthcare provider.