Are you lacking concentration? Are you becoming forgetful? Are you irritable and moody? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, there is a strong probability you will answer no to the next question…Are you getting enough sleep?
Sleep is a fundamental part of a humans’ life with the average sleep duration for adults being 7 – 8.5 hours sleep per night. Studies have advised that although this is an average dependent on the individual, some people require far less hours of sleep whilst others require far more. How many hours of sleep do you typically get each night? Is it close to the average? Do you find you need more or less than the average?
Role and Function of Sleep
Although a topic of debate, it is believed the role and function of sleep is to restore us both psychologically and physiologically. There are two stages of sleep known as REM (rapid-eye-movement sleep) which typically occurs for 25% of your sleep time and NREM (non-rapid-eye-movement sleep) which typically occurs for the remaining 75% of your sleep time. Research indicates that REM sleep is important in the restoration of our cognitive abilities e.g. restores our concentration and memory, whereas NREM sleep is important in the restoration of our bodily abilities e.g. restores our physical energy.
I can’t sleep, could it be insomnia?
Insomnia is characterised as persistent difficulties with sleep lasting for a month or longer. Some difficulties include having trouble falling asleep, repetitive waking throughout the night, waking up earlier than anticipated and being unable to sleep again as well as unsatisfactory sleep quality. Some common symptoms of Insomnia are low mood, being irritable, day time sleepiness and poor concentration. These symptoms can impact a person significantly giving them a lesser quality of life.
What impact does this have on my mental health?
Lack of sleep and insomnia can have a severe impact on your mental health causing people to think negatively e.g. “I won’t perform well at work tomorrow if I don’t sleep” or “I won’t be able to cope without sleep” etc, as well as causing people to suffer from emotional and physical problems such as anxiety and apprehension.
So, what can I do?
Now that you have some general knowledge on what sleep is and what can impact it, you can focus on improving your sleep hygiene which is a term used to describe good sleep habits.
Some tips we recommend are:
1. Get regular. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
2. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. These substances are known to interrupt sleep.
3. Bed is for sleeping. Although we all love watching Netflix in bed, it is important to stop behaviours that inhibit sleeping. Your body needs to learn the connection that bed is for sleep, not anything else.
4. Start a sleep ritual. Have some relaxation time that prepares you for bed. Some useful ideas are relaxing stretches or breathing exercises. Aim to do this for 15 minutes prior to bed each night.
5. Soak in the bath. 1 to 2 hours before bed, have a hot bath (or a hot shower). This will raise your body temperature and will cause you to feel sleepy when your temperature decreases.
6. The right space. Make your sleeping area a comfortable and quiet area.
7. Keep your daytime routine the same. If you had a bad sleep the night prior, continue on with activities instead of avoiding them due to being tired. If you avoid activities, this can reinforce insomnia.
If you find the above tips are hard to incorporate into your life, Self Reflections Psychology is here for you and would love to meet you to help you transition to a healthier, happier mindset.
If there is anything you think was important to add into this weeks’ blog post that was not included, or if you’d like to share your thoughts on successfully obtaining healthy sleep hygiene to encourage others, we’d love to hear from you.
Wishing you all a lovely week, from the team at Self Reflections.