Getting enough sleep is an essential part to emotional, psychological, and physical health. In fact, a common question that mental health professionals ask their clients is whether or not they are getting enough sleep. Because without it, experiences such as depression and anxiety can become exacerbated.
Not only that, lack of sleep can lead to severe health concerns. Without sleep, an individual can experience daytime fatigue, tiredness, drowsiness, trouble concentrating during the day, trouble remembering things, jitteriness, inability to accomplish simple tasks, impaired relationships with friends and family, unusual sleep episodes, depression, and even involvement in car accidents. These symptoms are an indication that there might be a lack of sleep.
Of course, if you’re experiencing insomnia, then falling asleep is likely not something you can will yourself to do. However, there are some steps you can take to help you fall asleep, or at least prepare your mind and body to become more relaxed. And this is the first step to falling into a deep sleep.
If you’re experiencing an impaired alertness throughout the day because of lack of sleep, there are a few things to ask yourself:
- Are you under a lot of stress?
- Are you depressed or feel emotionally flat or hopeless?
- Do you struggle with chronic feelings of anxiety or worry?
- Have you recently gone through a traumatic experience?
- Are you taking any medications that might be affecting your sleep?
- Do you have any health problems that may be interfering with sleep?
- Is your sleep environment quiet and comfortable?
- Are you spending enough time in sunlight during the day and in darkness at night?
- Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
These are beginning questions to begin to reveal what might be contributing to a lack of sleep. Certainly, stress at work or at home can get the mind going during the day and difficult to shut off when you’re trying to get some rest. If this is the case, which is a common cause of insomnia, you might try some techniques for relaxation. For instance, one way to relax the mind is through meditation. Now, there are many forms of meditation and you might need to find the method that is best for you. You can also use guided imagery which takes you to various imagined peaceful places or you can meditate using a point of focus. Both can have healing and relaxing effects. Finally, deep breathing can be an essential tool, particularly right in those moments when you’re lying in bed and you cannot get the thoughts to stop.
If stress is not the cause of the insomnia but instead a traumatic event, which is another form of stress, then a better solution might be to participate in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, sometimes known as “talk therapy” can be particularly effective because it will invite you to closely examine thoughts and related behaviors, as well as reactions to certain situations. This can help unravel the anxiety inside by untangling the mess of thoughts and feelings, particularly concerning a particular event.
Of course, using relaxation techniques combined with working with a therapist can return any anxiety to a level that is not just manageable, but absent. And when anxiety and stress is absent, the mind can let go of its tight grip on thoughts. When the mind can relax, the body can relax too, which facilitates falling asleep.
And you’ll notice the term “falling” asleep. When you’re falling, you’re not clinging to anything. You’re completely in limbo and that’s a state you can facilitate with relaxation techniques and psychotherapy for optimal health.