Each year, World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox. It is an annual event which celebrates healthy sleep and is used to shed light on sleep-related issues. This year, World Sleep Day will be celebrated on Friday, March 18.
Many people who are seeking mental health support may also have symptoms related to sleep, whether it is insomnia, hypersomnia, or other sleep related issues. Insomnia is defined as having difficulties to fall and stay asleep or early awakenings. Nearly 30% of people may have intermittent or some episodes of insomnia. Some symptoms include:
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Inability to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep every night
Physical symptoms such as fatigue and sleepiness
Difficulties with attention and concentration
How can I reduce my sleep issues?
Aside from genetics, a person may experience trouble sleeping at night due to negative thoughts. Often times when you are having trouble falling asleep, a cycle develops where you worry so much about getting to sleep that you can’t fall asleep. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) can help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and actions that keep you awake at night. CBT is generally recommended as the first line of treatment for people with insomnia prior to prescribing medication.
Some CBT-I strategies include:
Relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises can help you control your breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and mood so that you can relax.
Try sleep restriction by limiting the time you spend in bed and avoiding napping during the day.
Practice proper sleep hygiene by changing basic lifestyle habits that can effect sleep including excessive caffeine in the evening, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, or not getting regular exercise.
Try to unwind an hour or two before bedtime. While your body may be tired from a busy day, give your mind time to relax before heading to sleep.
Improve your sleep environment by keeping your bedroom quiet, dark and cool, not having a TV in the bedroom, and hiding the clock from view to avoid any added pressure of going to sleep.
If you are interested in learning more about healthy sleeping habits, go to worldsleepday.org for treatment options, diagnostic criteria and other current information. Find out more information about insomnia at www.mayoclinic.org.
Creative Arts Therapy Intern