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Fedrickson Life Coaching & Counseling
September Newsletter 2009

"GOODNIGHT, SLEEP TIGHT"

"A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book." ~ IrishProverb

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In today's crazy, hectic, million-things-to-do-in-a-day world, there's nothing more therapeutic than a good night's sleep. But let's be honest how many of us get all the sleep we need on a regular basis? More importantly, how does sleep play a part in our emotional well-being?

One of the assessment questions I always ask new clients is, "How are you sleeping?" Invariably, most clients have some kind of sleep issue, and it is no coincidence that emotional issues are impacted by not getting enough sleep. Difficulty falling asleep, waking up too much during the sleep process and sleeping too much are all things that affect a person who is struggling with worry, anxiety or depression.

The purpose of sleep is to help our bodies and minds recuperate from daily work, labor,and activities. Remember when sleep seemed to come so naturally in our youth and our early twenties? We all take sleep for granted when we are young. Unfortunately, the hormones that allowed us to sleep so soundly when we were young are not present in the same quantities as we age. As we age, these hormones -- called serotonin and melatonin -- begin to diminish, which makes it harder for us to get a good night's sleep.

Once we begin to lose sleep on a continual and long term basis, whether due to stress, emotional distress, or a significant life change, a vicious cycle begins. First, we are tired during the day, so we drink a caffeinated beverage, such as coffee or soda, because we need a "boost". This gets us fired up at first, but then we feel the inevitable"crash". What do we do then? We drink another caffeinated beverage! This charges us up again for the short term, but by now our system is filled with caffeine. The result? When we try to go to sleep at our regular time, we either have a hard time falling asleep or we wake up in the middle of the night. We then have a hard time getting back to sleep,so perhaps we take a sleep aid, eat something or maybe even drink a glass of wine hoping this will put us back to sleep. Due to our poor night's sleep,we wake up extra tired or perhaps even oversleep. So... we make the coffee or grab that soda to get us charged up again and the whole process starts all over. Does any of this sound familiar?

How many of you have done this or are continuing to do this in your life? This is a hard habit to break and does not remedy the real sleep problem: ongoing stress and/or lack of serotonin and melatonin.

Most psychiatrists say we need a minimum of 8 hours of sleep each night. I am constantly amazed on how little sleep some people get and still able to survive. Lack of productive sleep can cause many negative side effects, such as:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Decreased work productivity
  • Decreased alertness while driving
  • Diminished internal strength
  • Weakened immune system and Lack of motivation to complete tasks at home.

In addition, unmet sleep needs can give us an emotional short fuse. We get angry and frustrated easily, which can leave us with less patience for our kids or spouse when things don't go the way they should. Lack of sleep can even lessen the sex drive.

So,what things can we do to help restore a restful night's sleep? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime;
  • Limit your coffee/caffeine consumption to 1-2 cups a day (or even try togo caffeine free for a week);
  • Try not to exercise too close to bedtime, as this can rev up your system, making it hard for your body to relax and fall asleep;
  • Write down your worries on a piece of paper and give them to God before bed; tell yourself they are there for you to remember in the morning if you need them;
  • Stop drinking alcohol; alcohol is a depressant and can interfere with sleep hormones;
  • Practice Prayer, meditation or deep breathing exercises before bedtime all of these relaxation methods help quiet the heart and the mind;
  • Be sure you take care of the obvious such as too much light or sound in the room or replacing a worn out or uncomfortable bed; a topper with magnets and infarred comforter can make a big difference in getting a deeper sleep. magnets for sleep
  • Try to keep your bedtime consistent;
  • Don't stay in bed too long if you are in worry/anxiety mode. Get up and read, and make yourself acalming cup of hot chamomile or passionflower tea; and
  • Consult your Doctor or counselor to see what more is needed to help you achieve productive sleep. There are many herbs or prescriptions that can help with getting a good nights sleep.

You are not alone when it comes to fixing your sleep problems. If you haven't slept well for a while, let a health care professional give you an evaluation and some feedback to see what can be done for you to achieve good results sleeping through the night. Until next month, I wish you all many good nights, and to sleep tight!


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