More threads by HA


Stress Reduction Through Sleep

Sleep recharges the brain and allows the body to relax and heal. This is accomplished in several ways:

? During sleep the blood supply to the muscles is increased which helps to repair muscles.

? The body's metabolic activity is at its lowest, and the pituitary gland's secretions of growth hormones are peaked in deep sleep, which allows for tissue growth and repair.

? The body increases our immune response to infections during sleep.

? REM sleep plays a major role in facilitating memory storage and retention, organization and reorganization, as well as new learning and performance. When sleep is disrupted, the brain's ability to transfer short-term memory into long-term memory is impaired.
If the body is not recharged and ready for the day, stress levels can increase.

The term ?sleep debt? is commonly used to describe any loss of sleep. If your body needs 8 hours of sleep per night and for the last 5 nights you have only slept 4 hours each night, your sleep debt is 20 hours. This debt does not disappear; it is cumulative. In order for your body to fully recover from this loss of sleep, you must get that sleep back over time.

Too little sleep means:
? Stress, anxiety and loss of coping skills
? Reduced immunity to disease and viral infection
? Feelings of lethargy
? Mood shifts
? Impaired judgment
? Reduced productivity. Reduction in cognitive functioning and reaction time including:
? Ability to concentrate, remember, handle complex tasks, think logically, assimilate and analyze new information, and think critically
? Decision-making skills
? Vocabulary and communication skills
? Creativity
? Motor skills and coordination
? Perceptual skills
You may not be getting enough sleep if you:
? Fall asleep within five minutes of getting into bed
? Cannot wake up in the morning at the appropriate time without an alarm clock.
? Feel sleepy during the day
? Struggle to get out of bed in the morning
? Fall asleep in meetings and lectures
? Need caffeine to keep you awake
? Often sleep extra hours on the weekend
? Fall asleep watching TV
? Have trouble concentrating and remembering
? Fall asleep after heavy meals or after one or two alcoholic drinks

Get adequate amounts of sleep every night.
Most people in the United States can use at least one more hour of sleep per night. In fact, we need between 9 and 10 hours of sleep to function at full capacity and be wide awake the following day. Identify the amount off sleep you need to be fully alert all day long. Get that amount of sleep every night.

Establish a regular sleep schedule.
Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up without an alarm clock at the same time every morning, including weekends. Your biological waking and sleeping clock is not programmed for weekends. Even slight changes in sleep cycles can cause problems.

Get continuous sleep
For sleep to be rejuvenating you should get your required amount of sleep in one continuous block. Six hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep is better than 8 hours of disrupted sleep. It is also better to get a good night?s sleep than a light night of sleep and naps during the day. If there are disruptions in your sleep, find ways to eliminate these disruptions.

Make up for lost sleep
Pay back your sleep debt in a timely fashion. Make up for any lost sleep as soon as possible. Occasionally it is all right to have a late night; however, it is important to note that reducing sleep by one hour for seven nights has the same effect as staying awake for twenty-four consecutive hours once a week. You cannot make up for lost sleep in one night or on the weekends. Sleep was lost over time, and it must be repaid over time as well. In order to do this, go to bed earlier rather than waking up later.

Exercise has a wide range of physical and mental benefits, which improves sleep. Exercise is most beneficial on sleep when it occurs within 3 to 6 hours of bedtime.

Other Important Sleep Tips
? Stop smoking
? Reduce caffeine intake
? Avoid alcohol near bedtime
? Try relaxation techniques
? Maintain a relaxing atmosphere in the bedroom
? Value your sleep and make it a priority

Every night track the amount of sleep you get and any interruptions that occur. The goal is to maximize the amount and quality of sleep. If there are interruptions assess your sleeping area and creatively find ways to reduce and eliminate them.


Thanks for that.

Lack of sleep is a huge problem of mine. My sleep debt probably adds up to 5 years...


I also have a real issues with lack of sleep it just makes me feel worse and because I feel worse I sleep less -- it is a vicious cycle!!!



yeah, Heather, I know exactly what you mean.

the second last session I had with my therapist, she said to me, "try and have an early night", and for some strange reason, I managed to have an early night then. the first one in ages.

then in our last session we talked about it, and she said I need a kind and loving mother-figure to give me permission to look after myself. It's too true.

Now I'm trying to figure out how to be the kind loving mother-figure I need to be to myself...
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