Fighting back against sleepless nights
Being a counseling practice in Western PA one of the biggest symptoms people come into our practice reporting is poor sleep. Either not being able to fall asleep at night, having a restless night or waking up feeling fatigued and more worn down then when they went to bed.
We live in a very fast- paced on-demand world. We have bright lights and aloud noises going off constantly; as well as an ever growing list of things we “have to do” that haunt us in the back of our minds as soon as we lay down at night. The end result of all of this being feeling foggy, moody and disconnected from what we ‘need’ to be doing or an ability to enjoy our waking hours. Much like a computer system, we all need the time to shut down, reset and reboot for all systems to start running properly again.
Let us help you clear out your mental landscape to let you get back to living… sleeping… and feeling whole again.
Signs you’re not getting enough sleep:
- You’re moody
- You’re unproductive
- You’re gaining weight
- You’re sleepy during the day
- You’re forgetful
- You’re sex drive has lowered
- You’re getting stressed out or frustrated by the ‘small stuff’ in life.
- You find you thoughts blanking out/ can’t come up with the right words
- You’re concentration is down
- You’re body is feeling more sore, uncomfortable or achy
Read more on these signs from:
Causes of sleep problems
- You have had recent changes in your life situation or environment. Even good changes count here!
- job change
- having a baby
- You have had a recent upsetting experiences
- You are under a higher level or ongoing levels of stress. Check your life stress index here!
- You have had changes in your daily routine. Seasonal and Time Zone changes qualify!
- You are going through Physiological (body) changes
- Medical issues- such as hyperthyroidism or Diabetes
- Emotional distress- anxiety or depression frequently go hand and hand with sleep issues
Ways you can be hurting your sleep- What NOT to do:
- Napping during the day
- Watching TV in bed
- Using a phone/ tablet/ laptop within an hour of bed: anything with a bright screen and blue light wakes up the brain!
- Excessive caffeine usage: Try cutting out caffeine after 4 PM
- Eating heavy meals before bed (within 3 hours)
- Going to bed hungry
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Going to bed too early
- Working out right before bed
Ways to improve your sleep- What TO DO
- Establish a regular bed time and stay consistent- going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time daily helps resets your internal clock. Changing this up on the weekends can throw it back off balance again. Stay consistent!
- Develop a nighttime routine: have activities that lead up to bed on a nightly basis, a walk around the house, checking doors, tucking in kids, doing a certain relaxation technique, etc. You want to trigger a mental shift in your body that alerts it that bed time is approaching.
- Avoid heavy physical or mental activities close to bed time. Exercise is great to get the body worn down and able to rest but try to keep this at least 3 hours before you go to bed to let the body come back down. Save challenging mental projects for early in the morning when the mind is fresher. Doing this right before bed will keep it on your mind after you turn out the lights.
- Take a warm bath or hot shower around an hour before bed and keep your bedroom at a ‘cool’ but not cold temperature that will allow your body to naturally step down and temperature and put you into a comfortable hibernation state when you crawl under the covers.
- Make your bedroom a place that you enjoy going into; keep it clean, have a comfortable mattress, cozy blankets & pillows, hang relaxing pictures that make you smile, add in relaxing scents that you like with essential oils or lotions you put on before bed.
- Make a hot cup of Sleepy Time Tea, or any soothing (Non Caffinated) herbal tea you prefer, I tend to go for Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer (which also helps with anxiety!)
Many times sleep issues can be related to events in your life and thoughts you can’t get out of your head. Try writing them down before heading to bed, practicing a mindfulness or relaxation exercise, or talking it out with someone you trust. If you find that you can’t break that thought loop keeping you awake, at Angelus out therapists are trained in helping you sort through the mess and clear out your mental landscape to let you get back to living… sleeping… and feeling whole again.
Still can’t Sleep?
Try our Passive Progressive Relaxation Audio file: 14 min walk through helping your body and mind shut down!