Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recovery Step #2: Sleep, Damn It!

Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care
The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast.

- William Shakespeare, Macbeth


Walking around with frog eyes, feeling like my head’s in a fishbowl, repeating myself in conversations, repeating myself...oh...and forgetting what I’m doing when mid-task: this is me without sufficient sleep.

Sleep disorders are symptomatic of depression, to be sure; but I think the number one thing you can do for yourself and your sanity is to get a good night’s sleep, damn it! For me it makes all the difference in the world – in fact, the benefit is exponential!
ME after a night of 5-hours of sleep...

Adults need between 7 – 9 hours good sleep each night. According to Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic [see MayoClinic.com]: 

Although some people claim to feel rested on just a few hours of sleep at night, research shows that people who sleep so little over many nights don't perform as well on complex mental tasks as do people who get closer to seven hours of sleep at night. Additionally, studies among adults show that getting much more or less than seven hours of sleep a night is associated with a higher mortality rate.

Did you read that...don't perform as well on complex mental tasks....higher mortality rate!

Make no mistake about it, neither you nor I can get well and stay well without healthy sleep habits. But what are good sleep habits anyway?

The Mayo Clinic suggests the following 7 steps for a healthful sleep (see MayoClinic.com):

1.  Stick to a sleep schedule: Even on weekends and, yes, holidays; hard to do, but I'll give it a try.  

2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink: Don’t eat too close to bedtime, don’t go to bed hungry either; and watch the nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol intake. Frankly, in my opinion, regarding the nicotine and alcohol…don’t even!! just DON’T EVEN!!! {More on that in a future post.}
ME after a night of 7.5 hours sleep :)

3. Create a bedtime ritual: Create a soothing, quiet ritual to help you wind down - take a warm bath, read, meditate, or say your prayers. It works great for children, and works well for you and me too!

4. Get comfortable: Having a comfy bed with snuggly comforter, pillows, and PJs encourage good sleep {no problem for me here!}

5. Limit daytime naps: This one goes out to my husband...

6. Add physical activity to your daily routine: Preferably early in the day, so you are not too energized at bedtime.

7. Manage stress: Yes, I know, I know – easier said than done, but a crucial part of healthy sleep.

And of course, as the Mayo Clinic adds, if you continue to have difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep, or waking up in the morning, see a doctor. 

{It’s important to remind you here too: I am NOT a doctor; I am not a psychologist or licensed counselor; I am a patient just searching for (and sharing) ways to get well.}

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