Let's be honest. We all love a good nights sleep. It makes our day and energy levels so much more enjoyable!
Sleep is such an important part of our human experience. Our body rejuvenates, files and integrates all that we have experienced during the day and allows us to be energised for the next day.
Why is it then that we often struggle with sleep?
Either we are unable to fall asleep easily, we wake up frequently during the night, or we have had what we thought was a full nights worth of sleep - only to wake up so tired like we haven't slept at all.
Lack of proper sleep often results in moodiness, lack of mental clarity, memory loss, operating skills and general reduction in peacefulness and happiness levels. Long term effects can include health problems and adrenal fatigue.
Here are a few reasons listed as to why we cannot fall asleep;
Too much caffeine. Caffeine can over stimulate our adrenals. It works by blocking the Adenosine, which is a substance in your body that promotes sleepiness. Caffeine blocks the Adenosine receptor to keep you from feeling sleepy. Having this in the afternoon (and depending on how sensitive your body is to caffeine or stimulants) can interrupt our natural sleeping patterns. It is suggested to have your last hit of caffeine at least 6 hours before your bedtime on average.
Bright lights. Sometimes we forget that we have ancient bodies that were built to work with the natural rhythms of the earth. One of which being when the sun comes up and when the sun goes down. When we have artificial bright lights in the evening, it tricks the brain into thinking that the sun is still up. So normally when it gets dark our body naturally releases a hormone called Melatonin - which helps us to start feeling sleepy to get ready for a deep sleep - but if we have bright lights it stops this hormone from being released and thus we find it hard to go to sleep. Just like a sunset, aim to have warmer, or more orange lights in the evening, such as a salt lamp or 'blue light' blockers on your phone or computer (google software called Flux for this).
Overthinking. When we are worried, stressed or thinking about many things at once - it can affect us either while trying to get to sleep or wakes us in the middle of the night due to being in a stress response Beta brain waves rather than a deep rejuvenating Delta brain waves. So how do we actually slow down our thoughts so we can have a restful sleep? A good start is to write a to do list, particularly if you have what you haven't done that day or what you need to get done running through your mind. Get it down on paper and look at it tomorrow! The next thing to do is to help the unconscious mind out. During the night it files and categorises what happened that day, sorting between long-term memory, what means what and bringing meaning to the day. Mentally label each event or information that is running through your mind, understand it and put it in it's own folder or category in your mind. The third and best thing to do is to meditate, you can either listen to a guided meditation or you can just go to a quiet place and focus on your breathing. Here is a trick to slow down the overthinking (video guide).
If you would like a personalised session to be free from your stress, mental health issue or addiction - please don't hesitate to contact us at The Centre for Healing. Specialising in Mental Health and Drug Rehabilitation.
Posted By: Melissa Hiemann - Therapist and Co-Founder at The Centre for Healing (formerly The Melbourne Centre of Healing Pty Ltd) in Melbourne, Australia. We specialise in Healing Mental Health and Addictions by getting to the cause rather than treating the symptoms.