There is nothing worse then waking up in the morning feeling like you haven’t actually slept - tired, groggy and unmotivated about the day ahead. Unfortunately this is a common experience for many people.
Insomnia is one of the most common diagnosed sleep disorders which affects a person's ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep and has been known to have a link to the persons mental health.
Historically, insomnia has been thought of as secondary to other disorders such as anxiety or depression. The idea was that you became depressed – and that your sleep suffered as a consequence.
However, sleep and mental health actually have a bidirectional relationship.
What this means is that whatever the initial cause and symptoms (whether insomnia is causing a mental health problem or a mental health problem is causing insomnia), either can make the other worse.
Let’s look into some reasons why this may be
Sleep deprivation impairs a person's ability to think clearly because they are not getting into the REM sleep cycle which stimulates the brain regions used in learning.
This can be why you may feel more emotionally triggered or reactive when you have been sleep deprived because your ability to perceive things as easily or as clearly is affected. The mood is then lowered impacting any future situations to be perceived or received negatively and it becomes a cycle resulting in a depressed state.
Anxiety comes from fear. When you feel anxious it is because you are fearing something and when you are fearing something that means you are either focusing on the past or the future rather then the present moment which can make it very difficult to relax.
There are two areas being affected here and they are your thoughts and your emotions. Not only does your mind start racing with thoughts but also your body goes into an acute stress response (also known as hyper-arousal or 'fight or flight' mode) where the sympathetic nervous system sends out impulses to release adrenaline in the body therefore making it difficult to fall asleep. The anxiety you experience (fears you are holding onto) are something that you may not be consciously aware of but are existent in your subconscious based on past experiences you may not have overcome or healed from.
Here are a few tips you can do before bed to help you achieve a better nights sleep
Keep a notebook by your bed so you can write down all of the thoughts that come up as you are trying to go to sleep. This way, you will not feel like you have to keep them in your mind.
Have a warm bath with some lavender essential oil or magnesium which both assist in naturally calming the muscular and nervous systems.
If you do not have a bath at home you may like to diffuse lavender oil close to your bed or apply a few drops to your pillow. You will also find there are teas you can drink with ingredients that offer similar effects.
Listen to some relaxing music or a meditation track that’s specifically tailored to anxiety or falling asleep. Try our guided sleep meditation HERE
Seek professional assistance in finding the cause of the symptoms you are experiencing and then healing them so that they can no longer hinder you.
It may take some time before you notice your sleep is consistently better, however, if you incorporate all 5 of the above steps regularly you will be sure to improve it.
Written by: Chanel de King, Healer and Therapist at The Centre for Healing.
Specialising in Addiction Rehabilitation and Mental Health Programs in Melbourne.