GOOD NIGHT! (Final Part )

Studies show that people with in­somnia who learn to recognise and change stressful thoughts sleep better than those who take sleeping pills to treat their insomnia. Whatever the cause, you are more likely to rest if you adopt healthy sleep behaviours.

Much like diet and exercise, sleep is a basic building block to good health. Create a relaxing sleep envi­ronment. Keep your bedroom dark, cool and as quiet as possible and keep electronics such as a computer, TV and phones out of your bedrooms.

Exposure to stimulating objects and lights from computer and TV screens can affect the levels of mela­tonin, a hormone that regulates your body’s internal clock. Do not discuss or deal with stressful or anxiety-induc­ing situations right before bedtime.

Just as exercise can increase energy levels and body temperature, discussing difficult topics will increase tension and may provoke a racing heartbeat. Protect the quality of your sleep by dealing with any stressful topics long before bedtime.

Maintain a regular sleep routine. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends.

Late afternoon naps can interfere with night time slumber. Maintain a regular exercise routine. Research shows that exercise increases total sleep time, particularly the slow-wave sleep that is important for body repair and maintenance.

However, do not exercise too late in the day. Working out close to bed­time can boost energy levels and body temperature, making it harder to fall asleep.

Avoid late night meals and alco­hol consumption. Skip heavy meals before bed and limit alcohol. Even if a cocktail seems to help you fall asleep, it can interfere with sleep quality and disrupt sleep later in the night.

Avoid nicotine and caffeine use. These stimulants can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, espe­cially if consumed late in the day. Setting aside time to unwind and quiet your mind will help you get into a sleepy state of mind.

Meditating, doing breathing exer­cises, taking a bath and listening to relaxing music are great ways to calm down at night. Do not check the clock. Tallying how much sleep you are losing can create anxiety and make it harder to fall asleep.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. More than experience major depressive disorder during their lifetime, according to the national Institute of Mental Health.

Depression and sleep problems often go hand-in-hand. Many people with depression experience hypersom­nia, a condition in which they sleep more than normal. On the other end of the sleep spectrum, insomnia is also common among people with depres­sion.

In fact, research suggests that peo­ple with insomnia are 10 times as like­ly to suffer from clinical depression. Some people develop sleep problems first, and then go on to experience depression.

In others, depression occurs before signs of sleep disorders. In either case, sleep difficulty is just one of many reasons to seek treatment for depression. Depressed people typically feel hopeless and guilty.

They often lose interest in routine activities and withdraw from family and friends. They may have thoughts of suicide. Treatment can address both depression and the sleep prob­lems that go along with it.

By Robert Ekow-Grimond Thompson

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