Have you been dreaming of a good night’s sleep?!
The ability to have a good night’s sleep is almost like having a special superpower!
There are all sorts of benefits to getting enough sleep. For example, you are better able to manage your emotions, have better concentration and memory, make better snack choices, and handle stressful situations more effectively.
Research suggests that people who have poor sleep may often experience an increase in mental health symptoms, including feeling sad, hopeless, depressed and anxious. Some others may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviours, whilst others may increase their use of alcohol or other drugs.
In my practice, I see a correlation between clients reporting thoughts of suicidal ideation and a lack of sleep.
The good news is there are ways to improve sleep naturally, that can be easily put into practice.
How Much Sleep?
Firstly, how much sleep do you need for a ‘good night’s’ sleep? Whilst everyone is different, on average the Sleep Health Foundation recommends:
- 9-11 hours for a school-aged child;
- 8-10 hours for a teenager;
- 7-9 hours for an adult.
The Sleep Hormone
Secondly, have you heard about Melatonin?
Melatonin is like your very own superpower. It is hormone produced from the pineal gland in the brain and releases the melatonin into your bloodstream, which helps you to FALL asleep.
Melatonin aids the body’s sleep cycle as melatonin production commences at nightfall when it becomes dark. Its natural enemy is light from devices such as phones or day light because they stop melatonin hormone production in your body.
Doctors may sometimes prescribe a synthetically produced tablet form for people such as shift workers. Small studies have indicated that it can also be useful for children with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Strategies to Help You Sleep
Here are some strategies to help you GET to sleep:
- Set a regular bedtime and wake up time
- Use the bed for sleep
- Keep your bedroom free from clutter, dark, quiet and at a comfortable temperature
- Try to stay in bed for at least 20 minutes then get up again if unable to fall asleep
- Avoid caffeine or nicotine a few hours’ before going to bed
- Talk to your GP or a mental health clinician
- Avoid exercising or eating a meal a few hours’ before bed
- Practice relaxation techniques, mindfulness, or download a sleep app
- Avoid big discussions before bed, as you may think about it rather than going to sleep.
And here are some strategies to help you get BACK to sleep if you wake during the night:
- Avoid looking at your phone or clock.
- Avoid getting up and having a cigarette, or looking at your phone or turning on bright lights.
- Practice some relaxation and mindfulness techniques or listen to some soothing music.
Author: Maree Stevens, BAdVocEd; GCert Sp Ed; M SocWk; M HumServ; GDipCouns; GCert MentalHlthPrac.
Maree Stevens is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker with several years’ experience working with people affected by mental health conditions and associated poor sleep.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.