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The power of sleep on your mental health

The Power of Sleep

Different Qualities of Sleep

Did you know that we have different qualities of sleep and that the quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your productivity, emotional well-being, creativity, physical vitality and even your weight? No other activity delivers so many benefits with so little effort! So. Take a read through our article on the power of sleep, and how can we improve our sleep quality, particularly during such challenging times as during COVID-19 when sleep can be naturally disrupted in many different ways.

While you sleep your brain keeps busy and oversees a wide variety of biological maintenance that keeps your body running well and preparing you for the day ahead. Without enough hours of restorative sleep, you won’t be able to work, learn, create, and communicate at a level even close to your true potential – This shows the true power of sleep and how it could really affect your everyday life.

Sleep and Your Mental Health

Sleep is often one of the first things to go awry when you start having difficulties with your mental health. People report either getting irregular sleep, not enough sleep or getting too much sleep. It’s extremely important to make sure you have a regular sleep pattern and ensure you protect time before you go to bed to be sure you can settle and allow yourself a chance for the best possible sleep quality. Having a regular ritual before bed and doing some simple things each evening can improve your quality of sleep significantly, we call this ritual sleep hygiene.

The National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) recommends:

  • Avoid napping during the day. It can disturb the normal pattern of sleep and wakefulness.
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol too close to bedtime. While alcohol is well known to speed the onset of sleep, it disrupts sleep in the second half as the body begins to metabolise the alcohol, increasing arousal.
  • Exercise can promote good sleep. More vigorous exercise routines should be taken between the morning or late afternoon as these can help to wake you up, and more relaxing exercises, like yoga, can be done before bed to help initiate a restful night’s sleep.
  • Food can be disruptive right before sleep so stay away from large meals close to bedtime. Also, dietary changes can cause sleep problems, if someone is struggling with a sleep problem, it’s not a good time to start experimenting with spicy dishes! And remember, chocolate contains caffeine.
  • Ensure adequate exposure to natural light during the daytime. This is particularly important for older people (and teenagers) who may not venture outside as frequently as children and adults. Light exposure helps maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Try to avoid emotionally upsetting conversations and activities before trying to go to sleep. Don’t dwell on, or bring your problems to bed.
  • Associate your bed with sleep. It’s not a good idea to use your bed to watch TV, listen to the radio, or read new and exciting books. If these things are important to you, try to only engage with things you have watched, listened to or read before so the material isn’t overly stimulating.

Sleep Cycles

While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night. Your brain performs different tasks during each stage of sleep.

Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

A really handy app that can help you monitor the quality of your sleep is called Sleep Cycle. We find this helpful in tracking how the people we work with are sleeping. This app, and others like it, can also help you wake up at the best time in your sleep cycle making it easier to get out of bed feeling refreshed.

Your movements vary with each sleep phase. Sleep Cycle uses sound analysis to identify sleep states by tracking movements in bed. It uses a wake-up phase (30 minutes by default) that ends at your desired alarm time. During this phase Sleep Cycle will monitor signals from your body to wake you softly when you are in the lightest possible sleep state.

For more information on improving your sleep quality, and how therapy may fit into this – Call Serendipity Psychology today.

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