Sleep Is Critical

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SLEEP IS CRITICAL

A lot of us are having trouble with sleep.
Combating that is now called Sleep Hygiene, yes an odd term.
Without consistently good sleep it is almost impossible to function well, make good decisions and lot of research shows it is very hard to even lose weight.

Lack of Sleep – 
Lack of sleep can kill you, make you fat, make you “stupid”, ruin your health and your looks, certainly sap your energy, destroy your sex life harm your social life, cause serious health problems, affect your personality and on and on. Studies have found that sleep-deprived employees are less satisfied, less productive, and less creative. But you know this.
You read about the accidents caused by lack of sleep.
You read about this and depression.
Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:
-Diabetes
-Heart disease
-Depression
-Heart attack
-Heart failure
-Irregular heartbeat
-High blood pressure
-Obesity
-Stroke
You also read about how people boast they can get by on less than 7-8 hours of good sleep – – still when tested, their driving ability, thinking ability and ability to perform at almost all levels is severely diminished. Yet they brag.
Maybe it’s the lack of sleep that causes this foolish thinking.
Surprisingly, over half of my in-office Marin County and San Francisco clients report sleep is a problem.

I’m sure you’ve heard: If You Snooze You Lose! Just not true!
Many studies have shown that lack of sleep relates to higher body mass, increases in hunger and higher levels of ghrelin.
These studies show a range of 30-35% higher likelihood of obesity in people who sleep less than 6 hours per day. Less sleep decreases leptin (you aren’t hungry) and increases ghrelin (feed me right now, especially high-fat & high-carb foods).
I believe that sleep psychology is a critically important part of any weight loss program.

What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is when you can’t regularly get the amount of sleep you need to wake up feeling rested, healthy and refreshed. For most people that is 7 to 9 hours sleep, though needs vary. You may have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep or the sleep may be fitful for a variety of reasons.
Symptoms of insomnia can include:
-Can’t readily get to sleep, even though you are tired
-Waking up too early in the morning
-Using sleeping pills or alcohol to sleep
-Feeling tired or not wanting to get up after sleeping
-Drowsiness, exhaustion, or irritability
-Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
-Trouble getting back to sleep when waking up in the night
-Not being about to stay asleep or sleep through the night
Causes of Insomnia:
Stress, anxiety, and depression cause about half of all insomnia cases, but grief and loss ups the percentages considerably. Life stress, worries, bipolar and borderline disorders, anger, grief, and trauma are major factors in sleep problems and should be assessed to see if you may be unaware of their presence or effects.

Sleep greatly improves learning and memory. It triages memories, consolidating useful ones and discarding unhelpful or “duplicate” ones.
It also consolidates procedural memory, the memory of how to do things, which is one reason why athletes build it into their training routines.
As well as memory, sleep enhances mood and cognitive functioning.
Often the problem is habits that you don’t notice and may feel reluctant to alter until realizing how troublesome they are. The choice is yours, but not acting can have dire consequences on your short-term and long-term health.
You may not be aware that many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, such as antidepressants, stimulants for ADHD, corticosteroids, thyroid hormone, high blood pressure medications, and some contraceptives. It is wise to make a list, go online to one of the many sources such as RxList and check, then discuss with your Dr.
Common over-the-counter culprits include cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, pain relievers that contain caffeine (Midol, Excedrin), diuretics, and slimming pills. (Information from webmd.com).
Insomnia, as noted above, is a sleep disorder but it can actually be caused by OTHER sleep disorders such as jet lag, night work, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, night terrors, particularly disturbing dreams and more, which is why a medical check-up with full disclosure on your part (always take notes you made in with you) is important.

What Can You Do?
Very often simple, fairly easy changes to your daily habits can put a stop to insomnia, please continue reading, below.
How Can You Fix Lack of Sleep? With Sleep Hygiene!
You have a good chance of turning the problem around if you look at EVERYTHING that may be affecting you negatively.
Here are just a few:
-Make a sleep diary on paper, or in your device, and track exactly what is going on & when.
-Do you sleep with a pet? If you can’t get Fluffy out of your bed, then you’d better commit to once a day brushing – just before bed (and not in the bedroom area) is necessary.
-Are your sheets and bed linens washed in hot water/hot dryer once a week to be fresh, to kill dust mites, rid them of allergens, etc.?
-Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time – even on weekends. This is important for your biological clock and circadian rhythms. Biologically it is proven that we internally respond to changes in the seasons, sun and moon, which is why jet lag and Daylight Savings Time can be so challenging for most of us. To set your bio-clock it is very important to get up and go to bed at the same time each day in order to feel well and be healthy.
-Do you have black out curtains (they are inexpensive and can hang behind your existing curtains or can be hung atop blinds)?
-Regular exercise of 30 minutes or more most days of the week will nearly always make a big improvement in sleep quality, but the effect is cumulative, not instant. Just not late in the day…
-Getting natural Vitamin D is so important for physical and mental health. It’s free but many people around the world live in areas where they can’t get enough. A huge federally funded study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that ¾ of US teens and adults are deficient in the so-called “Sunshine Vitamin”. This is very serious! Other studies blame this deficiency on leading to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and much more. A time-honored treatment for depression is getting outside for a walk daily. Many US children are seriously deficient due to being allowed to stay inside and play computer games.
-Avoid taking naps unless you are ill and limit them to not more than ½ hour and never after 3 PM. If you need more detail on this, there is an abundance on the web.
-If your bedroom is noisy, get an air purifier as they usually have a soft, soothing sound, and clean the air while distributing a soft breeze that moves the stale air around a bit.
-Do you watch TV, play video games, or use a computer, tablet or smart phone in bed?
Your bedroom should be for sex and sleep – really nothing else. Meditate, read, watch TV elsewhere so that when you go into your bedroom your psyche is primed to know it is time to sleep, or have sex and fall asleep.
-Do not fall asleep on the couch. As soon as you are sleepy, go to bed.
-Do you have caffeine or uppers (coffee, tea, nicotine, soda, drugs) after 4 pm?
-Some people benefit from ear plugs or a sleep mask. It’s a matter of preference.
-Lots of research shows that a cool bedroom is MUCH more conducive to sleep than a warmer one. Throw on an extra blanket or warmer pajamas. Try it. You will sleep better.
-Do you exercise or eat after 8 pm? Heavy, spicy meals cause sleep problems.
-Never, never get in an argument or read the news or social media just before bed. Quiet activities such as reading, soft music, meditation are all very helpful just before bed. I purposely read with a soft light before bed, as it is non-stimulating and causes a little eye fatigue, making me feel sleepy faster.
-Do you use alcohol to fall asleep? Do you use it to get back to sleep? If so, you are starting a vicious cycle and very possibly an addiction. Yes, alcohol will definitely help you go to sleep. It will also assure an unhealthy sleep and it will assure that when it cycles through your system causing blood sugar drops and other problems, it will then turn on you and wake you up. Then you need more alcohol to go back to sleep – and then addiction enters the arena. This is a particular problem for older people who are susceptible to sleep problems and dependence on alcohol in trying to fight insomnia. Its use can also add to dangerous falls, unsafe driving and other serious problems.
-Get off the screens one hour before sleep & cover the blue lights in your bedroom. You know what I’m talking about. Your TV, phone, alarm, computer, tablets, etc. all have blue or light that severely disrupts sleep, blocks your body’s production of melatonin and throws off your natural rhythms so important for health and sleep.
-If you can’t fall asleep, get up briefly, without turning on a lot of lights, and do something calming such as make a note of what is on your mind that needs to be done the next day, get a warm bath, have ½ cup of a warm non-caffeinated drink (more than 4 oz. is likely to make you wake up to visit the bathroom), meditate, etc. then get right back in bed as soon as you feel a little sleepy or are yawning.
-When you are struggling, just decide to enjoy relaxing and not making sleep the immediate goal. Without even getting out of bed you can do progressive muscle relaxation, prayer, meditation, visualize yourself on a beach calmly counting each wave until you drop off to sleep if you don’t like to get out of bed.
-Stop worrying and tell yourself that whatever is the issue you will address it in the morning. Write what is worrying you on a pad by the bed so you aren’t also worrying about forgetting it when you wake up.
-If you can’t self-regulate and improve your sleep, get help right away.

Your health and your thinking ability is too important not to take care of.
Happy sleep tonight.
Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.

Reminder:
For information about a wide range of articles and helpful information you could visit my website: www.valentinotherapy.com

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About Valentino Therapy

Psychotherapist (California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), artist, animal lover, SF Giants fan...I write mostly about daily life and psychology matters, concerns and disorders and how to get help or help yourself. I write about life and often laugh at it but I also write about very serious matters that affect our lives. I'm a psychotherapist (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) with a speciality in addiction, anxiety, depression, achievement, relationships and several other areas, which is work I particularly enjoy but the nature of it requires that I also enjoy other creative and physical pursuits. Personal: I love animals beyond a reasonable measure (reptiles excluded).
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