Written by: Sam Rouse, LPCA
There is not a lot better in life than getting a good night’s sleep. More than 20 million Americans report having sleep difficulties each year. Sleep issues are one of the first things screened for during any type of counseling or therapy. Too much sleep can sometimes be a red flag for depression while too little sleep can often mean anxiety. Your therapist is likely to ask you a lot of questions about how you are sleeping and will often time refer you back to your doctor to complete a sleep study. Sleep deprivation can be caused by several things and it is important to find out if it is for a medical reason or not.
It is very important to keep sleep a priority in your life. Lack of sleep can lead to difficulty thinking clearly, irritability and grumpiness, poor productivity, and much more. Driving while sleepy can be fatal to yourself and others on the road. Additionally, lack of sleep can cause already existing symptoms of anxiety to increase significantly. The issues caused by too little sleep are very likely to affect your relationships, family, and even job productivity. Sleep is so vital that the lack of it can even lead to hallucinations and severe health issues.
There are several things you can do to help yourself get more sleep. Most of these things are the things that people do not want to do, such as give up tv an hour before bed. While not the most convenient thing, it will help you fall asleep and sleep better.
1. Turn off the tv.
Things you can do instead: read a book, do the last few dishes, read to your kids, fold laundry, do a craft, make the grocery list, do a puzzle. Also, download an app on your phone that will change the backlight to red instead of blue. Blue backlight in electronics is interpreted by our brains as sunlight keeping us awake.
2. Set a bedtime.
The body loves routine. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. Take it a step further and do a whole routine. Change clothes, brush teeth, check the door locks, turn out lights, lay down.
3. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake or prevent you from getting into deep sleep. Be aware that caffeine also comes from sweet tea, soda, and even chocolate. Try some hot tea made specifically for bedtime instead.
4. Exercise during the day.
There could be an entire article written just on how exercise benefits sleep and every other part of your life and body. Talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Other tips: Meditate, use a sound machine, and download apps specific to assisting in improving sleep.