Once in a while we might have the odd sleepless night, it is when not sleeping becomes common place, that we end up feeling the impact. Not sleeping is not only miserable, it is also a recipe for poor health. Without remedy, over time not sleeping can become a habit that could cost you your peace of mind, making way for symptoms of depression, anxiety, and unexplained aches and pains.
There are multiple reasons why a person may experience difficulty sleeping, whatever those reasons are here are some things to consider.
How late do you engage in screen time?
Watching television, working on the computer, talking or texting on your smart phone are activities that stimulate your brain. By engaging in screen time right before bed, you are sending a message to your brain that is the opposite to rest. 2 hours before bed, consider, reading, writing or coloring to begin winding your brain down. Even better, consider removing the screens from your bedroom all together so that your brain begins to associate your bedroom with sleep.
Have you created an atmosphere conducive to sleep?
Helping your brain associate your bedroom with sleep means limiting your bedroom activities to the “2 esses,” sleep and sex. Keeping your room dark, avoiding bright digital clocks, keeping your room at a cool temperature, keeping pets off the bed, and if you listen to music, songs without lyrics are best to create an atmosphere for sleep. Additionally, try a dab of lavender oil on your pillow, or an oil diffuser.
What is your sleep schedule?
How much time do you allot for sleep? Scheduling a set bedtime and wake time trains your brain for sleep. My bedtime is at 10:30pm, on the weekends when I want to stay up late, I am reminded of the time, because by 10pm, I am yawning, my brain starts winding down for sleep. Ideally, you should give yourself between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you find yourself waking up throughout the night, try not to look at the clock to see how many hours you have left to sleep, the mathematics stimulates your brain. After 5 minutes or so of lying awake, get up and go to another room to read, write or color until you start to drift off, then go back to bed. Repeat this as needed to train your brain in your bedroom for sleep.
Are your activities affecting sleep?
Drinking fluids right before bed, creates a need for the bathroom during the night, disrupting sleep. Additionally, eating right before bed also interferes with sleep, creating discomfort. Consume fluids and food at least 2-3 hours before bed. Try to limit coffee and caffeinated drinks throughout the day to avoid the stimulating affects that promote wakefulness. Avoiding alcohol and nicotine at night may also improve sleep. Try a herbal tea, like chamomile or Valerian root for sleep. Sleep aids may help with sleep short term, but at the end of the day, they are temporary fixes that only mask the problem.
Ways to Wind Down:
Exercise, relaxation techniques like meditation, warm baths before bed are ways to assist with winding down for sleep. You may also consider journaling or talk therapy, whatever you decide to do, it is my hope that you begin visiting the land of slumber and wake feeling refreshed daily for improved wellness.
Get Help With Your Sleep
If you feel like you need the help of a professional for your lack of sleep, we can help. I offer individual therapy sessions to process what is keeping you from sleeping and we will work together for you to have a good nights sleep, because sleep is important for you to function. You can reach me at 404-800-7586 or through email here.
Zoe Dale, LPC is a therapist at True You Southeast in Decatur. She specializes in working with depression, grief, low self esteem and values a great nights sleep.