I have heard my clients share how the lack of sleep is impacting their mental health, emotion regulation, and how this has had a negative impact on their interactions with their partners and family. I want to share a little bit of insight on the benefits of sleep, the consequences of not getting enough sleep, and how you can make your sleep a priority.
Benefits of Sleep
Every individual ranges in how much sleep they “should” be getting to feel rested; but, on average, adults are recommended to get about 7-9 hours of sleep every night. When you can get sleep throughout the night, you are likely to experience the following benefits:
- Your immune system is stronger, and you are less likely to get sick.
- Likely to experience a better mood because you feel rested and energized.
- You are more likely to be aware and regulate your own emotions.
- Some studies even suggest that improving sleep can improve marital relationship quality due to the ability of improving other factors (i.e. mood, not as cranky, feeling productive).
- Can have a positive impact on your sex life as lack of sleep can lead to decrease in libido and higher risk of erectile dysfunction.
- Can increase your productivity with work and tasks. Chances are that you are more forgetful and unable to concentrate when you do not get enough sleep.
- You can be confident in your ability to be safe when driving and protecting other people on the road. Drowsy driving can put you and others in harm’s way.
How a sleep routine can help you
It is great to sometimes learn about the benefits of implementing a healthy habit, but it can sometimes be challenging to implement. Many sleep experts recommend incorporating a sleep routine into your daily schedule to help you be accountable and consistent with getting enough sleep. I often let clients know that if you are going to implement a new routine, it is important to start off small and make small changes. You are more likely to stick with small changes at a time versus if you do a huge overhaul overnight. What can be included in a sleep routine?
- Setting boundaries by using timers on your phone or watch
- Taking a bath
- Drinking water or a cup of de-caffeinated tea
- Going to the restroom before going to bed
- Using essential oils
- Listening to calming music without lyrics
- Reading a book
- Be sure to avoid caffeine
- Put all electronics away at least 30 minutes before bed
- Stretch your legs, back, and neck. We often carry a lot of tension in these areas and can feel stiff when trying to get comfortable.
- Most importantly, try to keep your sleep consistent
What can get in the way of sleep and a sleep routine?
I understand that there are different factors that can be a barrier to consistent sleep. For example, if your job requires you to work shifts when you would normally be sleeping. Shift Work Disorder is a real thing and there are some action steps that you can take to help. Some examples are taking melatonin before bedtime or using light therapy.
For others it may be that you have recently become new parents and your sleep cycle is now based on your new born’s sleep cycle. Many couples I work with talk about the stress of trying to begin sleep training so that they themselves can feel rested. Here is a link that talks about different sleep training techniques.
If you have found yourself to be experiencing insomnia or have had chronic issues with trying to sleep, be sure to speak to your primary doctor to learn more about your body and ways to take care of your physical health.
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/Troxel WM, Braithwaite SR, Sandberg JG, Holt-Lunstad J. Does Improving Marital Quality Improve Sleep? Results From a Marital Therapy Trial. Behav Sleep Med. 2017 Jul- Aug;15(4):330-343. doi: 10.1080/15402002.2015.1133420. Epub 2016 Apr 25. PMID: 27110636; PMCID: PMC5079848.
I specialize in working with clients who are looking for balance in their lives and learning practical and realistic ways to engaging in self-care techniques. I often incorporate self-care techniques into my treatment plans as it has been proven to help individuals and couples learn how to regulate their own emotions and communicate with others. Feel free to look at the services offered through Modern Wellness Counseling and check out the client portal to conveniently schedule your next appointment.