Sleeping Soundly?

April 9, 2018

It is not uncommon to find your self burning the candle at both ends.  Your toddler is up at 5 or 6 a.m., and so you must be too.  After everyone is tucked into bed, there are dishes to wash, lunches to pack, and other sundry household chores.  What's more, many people's "9-5" jobs are no longer just "9-5."  After the kids go to bed, you may log back in to your computer to triage your day job too.  Combined with the ever present smart phone, your mind is working on overdrive from the moment you wake up until the moment you hit the pillow at night.  You sleep restlessly or take awhile to fall asleep.  And, with everything on your plate, the time you spend in bed is significantly shorter than what you know you need.  Many parents prioritize their children's sleep.  But, your own sleep is somehow not essential.

 

Unfortunately, a lack of sleep has a negative impact on many areas of life.  Not getting enough sleep can:

  • Increase your risk of getting ill;

  • Contribute to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem;

  • Decrease your sex drive;

  • Impair attention, concentration, and reasoning;

  • Contribute to accidents;

  • Impair judgment, especially about sleep;

  • Contribute to weight gain

If you are consistently getting less sleep than you need, you may actually begin to feel as if you have successfully adapted to that sleep deprivation.  "I can live on five or six hours of sleep," you may say to yourself.  But, studies have shown that these individuals' performances on tests of mental alertness and performance are actually going downhill.  In short, we fool ourselves into thinking that we're OK. 

 

It also means that you are not functioning at your best.  You may lose your temper more quickly, be more depressed or anxious, or not take care of your body in other ways.  

 

There's no magic potion to reverse these effects except sleep.  And that's hard to fit in.  Even if you don't have extra time in your day to devote to sleep right now, here are a few steps you can take to make the time you do have to dedicate to sleep more effective:

  • Be consistent. Go to bed at approximately the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including the weekends.  This may seem counter-intuitive, but it trains your body to know when it is sleep-time and when it is awake time.

  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and relaxing.  Use blackout shades and a noise machine, if necessary.

  • Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom.  You may even try charging your smart phone in the hallway outside your bedroom and never bringing it into the room.  It's extreme, but can be very effective. 

  • Use your bed only for sleeping and sexual activity.  Don't do work or other mentally-stimulating activities in it.

  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed time.

  • Exercise.  Even if it's only a brisk walk or chasing the kids in a game of tag, being active during the day can help you fall asleep more quickly at night.

Good sleep hygiene goes a long way and is a great start to functioning better.  Perhaps just pick one small change for a week.  Then, when that has become habit, add another one.  Hopefully, you can be better rested soon.

 

Are you ready to make some more changes?  Reach out to me for a 15 minute free consultation at drfask@fasktherapy.com.   

 

 

 

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©2018 by David Fask, Ph.D.

Happily serving clients from Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Havertown, Bala Cynwyd, Ardmore, Penn Valley, Villanova, Wynnewood, Narberth, Gladwyne, Merion Station, Broomall, Lower Merion, Wayne, Devon, Overbrook, Upper Darby, Newton Square, and Rosemont and in zip codes 19003, 19004, 19010, 19035, 19041,19066, 19072, 19085, 19096, 19087, 19046, 19083, 19082, 19008, and 19073, among others.