10 Steps to Achieve the Blessings of Sleep by Svetla Popova, LCPC
uring sleep, our body and mind relax, recharge and restore while the brain works on very low frequency waves, 0.2 Hz to 12 Hz, as opposed to higher frequencies during the waking hours—13 Hz and up. The endocrine glands produce adequate quantities of various hormones that govern our body and mind. We process the information we accumulated during the day, and during REM sleep, we sort out what we need to remember and what to throw away. Then, if we are lucky and go to the low-brainwaves sleep, we get our physical injuries throughout our body healed. A good night’s sleep makes us smarter, healthier, happier, more productive, and a whole lot more enjoyable to be around, let alone prettier. Can you imagine if we had a good night’s sleep consistently? Sleep is a basic necessity just like air, water and food. Ask chronically sleep-deprived people and they may confess that all they think about is sleep and they fake every other interest in life. A multitude of medical and emotional problems, late-night work-shifts, and parenting infants carry the burden of sleeplessness, even without the added self-created reasons. Let’s see ten simple (but not easy) things you can do to get more of the coveted blessings of sleep:
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A good night’s sleep starts in the morning—expose yourself to bright light during the day.
Get your body moving—walk, dance, exercise, do some gardening, etc.
Don’t consume caffeinated food or drinks in late afternoon or evening; they work against your brain’s preparation for sleep; and they are also diuretics, which will wake you up at night to go to the bathroom. The same applies with alcohol. It may help you fall asleep but will wake you up in the middle of the night.
4. 5. 6. 7.
Stop working hard about an hour before bedtime— that’s how long it takes for the brain to relax and prepare to sleep.
Get fresh air in your bedroom. Get the temperature down to between 62 and 66 degrees.
Turn the lights down one hour before bedtime. Sleep in a very dark room or with a comfortable sleeping mask because the pineal and the pituitary glands, which start the whole cycle of hormone production throughout the body, work in darkness, and are very finicky when we interrupt them.
Go to sleep in your bedroom rather than on the couch and then waking up to move to your bed.
Turn off your computer, tablet, TV, or other backlit screens one hour before sleep. This may be very difficult, but is important for two reasons: these devices excite your brain with volume and content of information; and the bright screen confuses our body into thinking it is morning, the time to be active, not resting.
Create a rhythm in your life, which can be as simple as going to bed and waking up at the same times each day.
With these 10 steps, you might find new meaning in the phrase, Good night! Svetla Popova, LCPC, owns and operates the practice Accelerated Counseling LLC, which treats children, teenagers, adults and couples. In addition to being a licensed counselor, she is trained and certified in EMDR, Reiki, and EFT, and can be reached at (207) 761-3883 or at AcceleratedCounseling.com. See ad, pg 5.