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The Importance of Sleep

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Positive Sleep Cycles

Barriers to Good Sleep

Lack of sleep is a major problem in our society.  The time that our bodies need to recharge is crucial to our physical and mental functioning.  Busy schedules and feeling a need to get more done prevent many people from getting the recommended amount of sleep.  Even when we try, there are obstacles and issues preventing good rest.  Good sleep hygiene and practices are key in getting beneficial sleep.

Do not underestimate routine.  This really is an important concept for good sleep. Our bodies operate on cycles and when that is disrupted, it affects our ability to shut down.  Getting to sleep at a fairly consistent time will help our bodies maintain a healthy cycle and facilitate better sleep.  This holds true for getting up in the morning also.  Sleeping in too much on weekends or days off can tend to throw that rhythm off.  This is one of the reasons people who work shifts may face troubles with sleep, possibly leading to other health issues.

Let go of the electronic devices.  Most doctors or health experts recommend not having your phone or tablet with you when going to bed.  For one thing, receiving various messages or alerts through the night will only serve to wake you periodically.  Also, using the device before bed stimulates the brain, causing confusing signals when your body is trying to settle down.   It is best to have all devices shut down or night right next to you.  Avoid television, turning instead to a book or magazine. 

Lighting is significant in this process as well.  Our bodies are naturally wired to go to sleep when it is dark out.  Minimizing bright lights in our rooms will fall in line with this natural cycle.  Small night lights are ok, but try to avoid one shining directly in the face. 

Sleep issues due to anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are fairly common.  If you find yourself anxious and unable to sleep, seek the source of the anxiety.  If it something within your control, start to formulate a plan to change it.  Start with a “to do list” for the next day.  Set some small goals, write them down, and leave it on a table or counter.  This can help you feel more in control of a situation, which felt out of control.  If you are struggling with nightmares it could help to work on rewriting the story, especially with repeated nightmares.  If you repeatedly think about the ending you would like to see, it may trigger change in your brain. 

It is very important to note that if sleep issues continue as results of possible PTSD or Anxiety disorders you need to contact a therapist or doctor for professional help.  Be aware of physical health issues affecting sleep as well.  Take action to contact your doctor should these continue. Ongoing sleep issue will only worsen these issues or lead to further mental health difficulties.  



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