18 Sep Sleep Well. Function Well.
All I want is a good night’s sleep! Do you find yourself saying this on a regular basis? It’s maddening to finally get in bed and then not be able to fall asleep. All day long you’re tired, but then your mind wakes up just as your head hits the pillow. Frustrating!
Impact of Sleeplessness
Insomnia and waking up throughout the night are common complaints for those who are suffering from stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to tell what came first, sleep deprivation or anxiety. Either way, lack of sleep takes a toll on your mind and body.
The impact of not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is diminished focus and memory. On top of concentration and recall issues, lack of sleep can cause a bad mood, reduced reaction time, increased blood pressure, and decreased immune system. You may be hungrier and crave carbs causing weight gain. Essentially, nothing positive comes from a lack of sleep.
Tips to Sleep Well:
- Schedule Bedtime Based on Schedule. Block out 6 to 8 hours from the time you need to wake up, including weekends. It’s best if this is the same time every day.
- Pass on the Stimulants. Don’t take in stimulants such as coffee, chocolate, or nicotine 4 to 6 hours prior to bedtime.
- Kick the Electronic Habit. Power down televisions, computers, tablets, and phones before bedtime. The light from the devices and the content are stimulating as opposed to calming. In fact, leave electronics out of the bedroom completely if possible. It’s best if the bedroom is just for sleeping and sex.
- Read instead of Watch. Read a book while you settle into bed instead of watching TV or surfing social media- see above. This is a great time to get out a book that bores you a little. For example, old text books or something equally dull.
- Temperature/Light. Cool, dark, and quiet bedroom is best. A fan can be used to drown out excess noise. Clean crisp sheets and a pillow that works for you is helpful too.
- Avoid the Clock. Turn the clock away from you so looking at the clock does not make you anxious. However, do use an alarm clock so the phone can be kept off of your bedside table.
- 15 Minute Rule. If after 15 minutes you are unable to fall asleep, get up and leave the bedroom. Make a list of what you have to do the next day to relieve your worried brain. Journal about the issue that’s keeping you up. Meditation, deep breathing, and light stretching will calm you down too. Once your brain is relieved a little, go back to bed.
If after trying some of these ideas, you are still not sleeping well, talk to your doctor to rule out other sleep related issues. Additionally, seeing a therapist to explore what is causing the stress and anxiety can also reduce sleep issues. Call me or email to set up a consultation so you can get back to being your best-rested self!
Kate Murphy, LCSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Chamblee, GA, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.