Hi everyone! Before we begin, I just wanted to let you know that Julia and I have decided to move our mail-outs to bi-weekly. Meaning, you'll only be hearing from us a couple of times a month from now on! I also wanted to thank you for the well wishes I have received from you all. Jameson Falkingham has arrived and everyone is doing well (read through this post to see a picture)!
This weeks issue is about a topic near and dear to my heart - sleep. Sleep is something I've always struggled with. Either I sleep too much, my sleep is interrupted (hooray for newborns!), or I struggle to fall asleep. These are concerns I often hear from my clients as well. A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights a week! While short bouts of insomnia are typically nothing to worry about, long-term sleep loss can wreak havoc on your learning and memory, metabolism and weight, safety, mood, cardiovascular health, and ability to fight off disease.
So, what can be done?
How are Sleep and Mental Health Related?
Here's a brief overview of what we know to be true:
Sleep problems are more likely to affect patients with psychiatric disorders than people in the general population.
Sleep problems may increase the risk for developing particular mental illnesses, as well as result from such disorders.
Treating the sleep disorder may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problem.
Often, our brain seems to think that the best time and place for worrying is in our bed. Engaging in "worry time" or a "brain dump" at a set time each day can help to teach your brain that this isn't the case. This Cognitive Behavioural technique can help you to develop control over the frequency and timing of your worry and it doesn't have to take long!
Sleep hygiene is defined as behaviours that one can do to help promote good sleep using behavioural interventions. Some of these interventions may include:
Creating a wind-down routine
Disconnecting from electronics at least an hour before bed
Get out of bed if you cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes. Get up, return to another space in the house and engage in a relaxing activity (not electronics!) and then try again when you're feeling sleepy.
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night
Avoid sleep reducing substances (caffeine, sugar, alcohol, etc.) later in the day.
Keep a Sleep Journal
A Sleep Journal will help you to track your sleep, allowing you to see habits and trends that are helping you sleep or that can be improved. Once you've collected enough data, make incremental changes. Changing one habit at a time can set you on the path to healthy sleep.