The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

I NEED SLEEP!

Sleep. Does it seem elusive? Not restful? Too much? Too little? Then you're in the right place. We often see sleep as "not that big of a deal." We cope with lack of sleep and exhaustion during the day by pumping ourselves full of caffeine. We may even turn to sleep aids at night to wind us down. The truth of the matter is that this all these "fixes" are a band-aid and they don't truly eradicate the problem.

When we don't get restful and complete sleep at night, it will have an impact our mood during the day. It can also be a vicious cycle. The more stressed we are during the day, the more we may toss and turn at night. The less sleep we get, the more stressed we become.

Consider your daily habits. How much caffeine are you consuming during the day? Research is showing that any coffee or caffeine drinks being consumed after the noon hour will still be in your system once you try to go to sleep at night. Limiting caffeine intake can be one way to fight the battle of lack of sleep. Another thing to consider is how active you are. Getting up and moving around during the day can help get out extra energy. Try not to do vigorous exercise before bed- this can actually energize you and make it difficult to fall asleep.

What does your diet consist of? If you are eating primarily refined sugars and flours and/or processed foods, your body may not be getting enough fiber and protein. A serving of protein at each meal is key to balance out your diet. Consider also how much water you are drinking. It is important to be hydrated during the day- and avoid high sugar drinks like soda. Do avoid drinking a lot of water before bed as this will cause you to most likely need to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

We have all heard that diet and exercise are key components to wellness. I continue to promote this mentality here as well. Know your body and how it reacts to what you put into it. Keep a food diary or journal to track how you feel after you eat certain foods. You may find a correlation between certain foods or activities that either improve your mood or bring you down.

So, you have exercise and diet under control and your sleep is still suffering. What are your next steps? Take note of the following sleep tips/hygiene:

  • Stay off electronics for at least an hour before bedtime (phones, tablets, computers, TV)
  • Go to sleep and get up at the same time everyday- routine is key to get your body in rhythm.
  • Tossing and turning? Get up! After 15 minutes of staying in bed when you can't sleep impacts the brain and associates wakefulness with your bed. Move to a different room and read or do laundry. Then try to go back to bed once you start to feel tired again.
  • Consider taking a supplement called Melatonin (it promotes sleep and is natural)
  • Keep a sleep journal- leave a diary by the bed so you can write down what's racing through your head if it is causing you to be wakeful. Getting out our thoughts out on paper can help us figuratively and literally rid us of some of our worries and stressors.
  • Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only!
  • Invest in a good bed/mattress and pillow. You spend a lot of your life sleeping- make it comfortable.
  • Make your room dark- run a fan or white/brown/pink noise if you need some background sound. (Try Simply Noise- an app)
  • Track your mood and sleep on Optimism (an app)- a great way to look at your habits, triggers, and moods

These are just a few ways to start changing your lifestyle to help with your sleep and hopefully improve your mood. Continue to check back here for more info on sleep tips and ideas. The better sleep we get the healthier both physically and emotionally we will be.

 

 

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