Solving the Mystery of Sleep

Solving the Mystery of Sleep

There’s no question that every day feels busier during the fall. The days are shorter and the sun sets earlier. This is the time of year of deadlines, yearly reviews, final exams, holiday parties and numerous other life to-dos. Many people try to accomplish their daily to-do list by sacrificing their full night sleep. I myself have been guilty of thinking a late or all-nighter is the best way to accomplish everything I need to get done. Other people find that as their schedules get busier, their ability to have a full, restful night’s sleep gets smaller and smaller.

While sacrificing sleep or an occasional restless night may seem fine, there are actually many negative consequences.

Some of the negative side effects of inadequate sleep are:

  • Increased risk of disease including heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes
  • Impaired attention and ability to concentrate
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired judgment

Here are some ways you can start cracking the mysterious code of getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Set a regular schedule. Studies have shown that having an irregular bedtime reduces the quantity and quality of sleep any average night. Having a regular schedule gets your body in a routine where sleeping and waking up is predictable. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day.
  • Use the end of the day to relax. Going to bed should be relaxing! You will definitely have a hard time going to sleep if your brain is still going about everything that happened during the day. Turn off the TV and other electronic devices. Have a conversation with a partner or friend. Stretch or do yoga. Do a favorite hobby. You’ll be amazed at how different you’ll feel with even ten minutes of relaxing down time before you try to sleep.
  • Take good care of yourself during the day. Eating right and exercising helps your body stay regulated.
  • Stress is a sleep killer. If you find that all of the above tips don’t seem to be getting you to sleep well, stress might be the actual culprit. Residual stress from your day will make it very difficult to sleep. Look for recurring thoughts or themes that you think about as you’re trying to fall asleep or what you think about when you wake up. Chances are those are the real reason you aren’t sleeping. Learning to manage stress will help you sleep. A therapist is a great resource for learning how to effectively manage stress!

Laura Lebovitz
LLebovitz @ GROWcounseling.com

 

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