Establishing a Regular Sleep Pattern

Discussion in 'Strategies for Success' started by Fleurise, May 2, 2014.

  1. Fleurise

    Fleurise Well-Known Member

    All this information has come from a handout and information I've learnt in therapy. Everyone is different but many of these have worked for me and are worth a try.

    Depression, anxiety, and other life difficulties often disrupt sleep. The sleep disruption can lead to even more anxiety or depression (which may worsen the sleep problem, which may ... well, you get the picture).
    In other words, sleep difficulties are a cause and an effect of mood problems. Regardless of which came first, it can be worth the effort to work on getting a good night's sleep.
    The Top Four Mood-Related Sleep Problems
    Depression and anxiety are associated with all kinds of sleep problems. Here are the four most common ones:

    Sleep onset insomnia Regularly taking more than an hour to get to sleep.
    Sleep maintenance insomnia Frequent wakening, plus difficulty getting back to sleep.
    Early morning wakening Waking up extremely early (e.g., 4 am) and being unable to get back to sleep.
    Hypersomnia Requiring much more sleep than usual (up to 14 hours a night).
    If you believe that you have any of these problems, tell your therapist and/or your physician.

    Tips for improving your sleep
    Take a look at these suggestions for improving your sleep. Place a check mark beside any that seem particularly important in your own situation.

    Avoid over-the-counter sleep medication
    These medications may put you to sleep, so they might seem effective. But most of them also disrupt the stages of sleep - particularly the early deep-sleep stages. When you awaken, you are likely to feel goggy and unrested. Your sleep will have lost some of the restorative capacity it should have.
    Don't drink to get to sleep
    Alcohol can make you sleepy, but it disrupts the sleep stages, particularly when the alcohol is at its highest concentration in your bloodstream: the first third of the night, when you should be getting your deepest sleep. You may also be more likely to waken mid-way through the night.
    Use prescription sleep medication wisely
    Some prescription medications are less disruptive to the sleep stages than over-the-counter pills. Nevertheless, these should be used cautiously, at the same dose each night. Most sleeping medications should not be relied upon over the long term (more than six months), though your case may differ. The mark of the success of any sleep medication is not whether it puts you to sleep, but how you feel during the day. Only your prescribing doctor can ascertain with your help how these medications are best used.
    Ask about medication scheduling
    Some antidepressant medications wakes you up and helps keep you more alert. This may be welcome during the day, but it can be a problem at night. If you are on medication, ask your physician whether it might be affecting your ability to go to sleep and, if so, whether it would be appropriate for you to take it earlier in the day.
    Set a standard bed-time and keep to it
    Going to bed at different times can easily disrupt your 24-hour cycle. This is what causes most jet lag: not the air travel, but the change in bedtime. If your weekend bedtime is three hours later than your weekday bedtime, you are effectively giving yourself the jet lag of flying from Vancouver to Toronto and back every week. During depression be precise about your bedtime. If you can't keep exactly the same bedtime each night, at least try to go to bed within an hour of the same time.
    Don't go to bed too early
    If you never get to sleep before 1 a.m., don't go to bed before 12. You will only spend the extra time awake, frustrated that you are not sleeping. Want to get to sleep earlier? Set your bedtime about 30 minutes before the time you have normally been getting to sleep. Then gradually begin going to bed earlier (by, say, a half-hour a week).
    Set a standard rising time
    Get up at the same time each day even if you feel the urge to sleep in (and even if you went to bed later than usual). Getting out of bed may seem like a strange way to get better sleep, but the type of sleep you get in the early morning isn't all that helpful anyway. Having a standard rising time helps set your internal clock even more effectively than having a uniform bedtime.
    Use an alarm clock
    If waking up at the same time each day is hard for you to do, an alarm clock can help. If you find yourself tempted to hit the snooze button, put the alarm clock across the room or in the hall. You'll have to stand up to turn it off, and it will be easier to prevent yourself from slipping back to sleep.
    Save your bedroom for sleep
    Your bedroom should be a place you associate with sleep. Just as Pavlov's dogs salivated when they heard a bell, you want to feel sleepy at the sight of your bedroom. Avoid associating this area with activities that are inconsistent with sleep - working, eating, arguing, exercising, using the telephone, watching television, and so on. A few minutes with a book is fine, but don't read anything that's so involving you can't put it down. Sex is also fine - men in particular may find that having sex enables them to fall asleep quickly.
    Create a good sleep environment
    The best bedroom temperature for most people is 18 to 21 degrees celsius (65 F to 70F), though some prefer the room to be cooler. Avoid temperatures about 24 C (75 F). If noise is a problem, some options include earplugs, soundproofing the room (cloth hangings can help a bit), and devices that emit while noise (e.g., fans or special noise machines). Eliminate hourly watch beepers or clocks that gong if they attract your attention. If a restless partner is a problem, consider a larger bed, special mattress, or even twin beds (at least until your sleep stabilizes).
    Avoid napping during the day
    Long daytime naps can disrupt your ability to get to sleep at night. Some people groan that if they didn't nap they'd never be able to function. In all likelihood, their naps perpetuate the sleep problem at night. If, on the other hand, you are a great 20-minute napper, keep it up. But just have one a day.
    Prepare for sleep
    Help your body make the transition from wakefulness to sleep by avoiding strenuous activity, exercise, heavy meals, and bright light for at least one hour before going to bed.
    Practice breathing or distraction strategies when attempting to get to sleep It can be tempting to lie in bed thinking about your problems or your plans for the next day. This will keep you awake, not put you to sleep. Practice any mental exercise that takes your mind away from these topics. Diaphragmatic breathing may help, particularly if you occupy your mind while doing it (perhaps by counting breaths).

    Not all of this will work for everyone and it takes a little perseverance. With that said I'll leave you with a quote.

    “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2014
    Flying Fox and EmB like this.
  2. randomguy9

    randomguy9 Put's the "Pro" in Profanity

    Good info.

    I have found the standard sleep and wake time (Within an hour) each day is valuable... except the days when I need to catch up on sleep. (Which is a gradual process... if I get 6 one night I try to budget 9 for the next 2-3).

    Days where I get enough sleep, im a not more reasonable and calm and less prone to depression and anxiety.
  3. Fleurise

    Fleurise Well-Known Member

  4. EmB

    EmB Well-Known Member

    This is really great!! Good info. <3

    Sending hugs

  5. Flying Fox

    Flying Fox SF Supporter

    Thank you so much for sharing @Fleurise. :D Sticking to healthy sleeping habits is hard for me and sleep is a huge influence on overall mood and condition in my books. I should print this out and stick it on the fridge.

    Also, sleep medication can be dangerously addicting, this coming from first hand experience. Doctors will not tend to advise cutting off the prescription of sleeping medication, thus leaving it up to you to make the decision.

    Only take it as needed, avoid taking it often or recreationally. I naturally find it easy to fall into a heavy sleep. However, by the time I was a couple years into using Ambien(from my months in the hospital) it was impossible for me to fall asleep without it which was a little scary.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017