• It’s National Bed Month 2018: so time to start learning about the importance of a good night’s sleep!

    Posted on March 22, 2018 by Karen in anxiety, automatic negative thoughts, emotional intelligence, focus, growth mindset, happiness, insomnia, mindfulness, neuroscience, positive affirmations, self care, sleep.
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    Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious.

    Are you interested?

    Then you may benefit from reading the first sleep book by a leading scientific expert—Professor Matthew Walker, Director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab: “Why we sleep”

    In his groundbreaking exploration of sleep, Walker explains how we can harness sleep’s transformative power to change our lives for the better.

    According to Good Reads book review of why we sleep:

    “Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. Dreaming mollifies painful memories and creates a virtual reality space in which the brain melds past and present knowledge to inspire creativity.

    Walker answers important questions about sleep: how do caffeine and alcohol affect sleep?

    What really happens during REM sleep? Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? How do common sleep aids affect us and can they do long-term damage? Charting cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, and synthesizing decades of research and clinical practice, Walker explains how we can harness sleep to improve learning, mood, and energy levels; regulate hormones; prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes; slow the effects of aging; increase longevity; enhance the education and lifespan of our children, and boost the efficiency, success, and productivity of our businesses.”

    For me, this highly accessible, enlightening, evidence based sleep book is a must read for anyone who is serious about their health and well being.

    Over the past few years, lots of my new mindfulness and counselling clients have been increasingly reporting difficulty sleeping or insomnia so I thought it might be helpful to also share a few sleep hygiene tips:

    So what is sleep hygiene?

    Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness.

    What does healthy sleep pattern look like?

    According to the National Sleep Foundation:

    “The most important sleep hygiene measure is to maintain a regular wake and sleep pattern seven days a week. It is also important to spend an appropriate amount of time in bed, not too little, or too excessive. This may vary by individual; for example, if someone has a problem with daytime sledeepiness, they should spend a minimum of eight hours in bed, if they have difficulty sleeping at night, they should limit themselves to 7 hours in bed in order to keep the sleep pattern consolidated.”

    Here’s some tips to help you to overcome sleep or insomnia difficulties:

    1. Avoid stimulants such as tea, coffee or any caffeine products, nicotine or alchol close to bedtime
    2. Try sprinkling a small amount of lavender oil on your pillow just before bedtime
    3. Avoid eating anything substantial ideally at least two hours before bedtime
    4. Research indicates that engagement in emails and social media activities such as a facebook and twitter can overstimulate the mind resulting in difficulty sleeping, so as part of my daily bed time routine, I ensure that I cease sending emails or engaging in face book or twitter for at least two hours before going up to bed
    5. Adopt a healthy pre bedtime routine such as the three minute breathing space mindfulness meditation or listen to some relaxing music
    6. If you are struggling to fall asleep for longer than 30 minutes, instead of allowing your mind to wander in bed, get up and meditate or sit upright in a chair until you feel sleepy. Don’t watch tv or engage with the internet
    7. Avoid watching tv or your i player in bed
    8. Resist taking afternoon naps
    9. Regular exercise can support good sleep
    10. If possible, aim to go to bed most evenings before 11pm with the aim of sleeping for at least 7 hours

    If after reading this sleep related blog you are still struggling to sleep and are feeling overwhelmed with distractions and negative thoughts because of this, don’t panic or give up just yet.

    Instead of focusing on scarcity and deprivation and telling yourself “I’m really anxious that I won’t sleep tonight” and of allowing yourself to experience positive and pleasure thoughts such as “I’m really happy to be in bed and that I will sleep well tonight,” try this approach:

    Wake up each morning by developing a positive mindset of abundance.

    Here’s how to do it:

    • Firstly, adopt a positive affirmation statement in the present tense such as “I’m happy and grateful that I have a pleasant, uninterrupted night’s sleep this evening and that I wake up feeling totally refreshed,” repeat this at least 40 times each evening just before going to sleep, for at least a four week period.
    • Then, grab or take a photo of yourself following a good night’s sleep and look at this during each affirmation.
    • Last but not least, frequently reflect on this statement: “if you never give up you never fail.”

    Sounds simple and perhaps mumbo jumbo doesn’t it? However, I have also used this technique with several clients and friends to help them tackle issues such as:

    • overcoming procrastination
    • overcoming addictions
    • overcoming shyness, low self esteem and social phobia
    • overcoming anxiety and exhaustion
    • overcoming loneliness

    The results have often been astounding. Having said that though, most of these clients have undertaken a few counselling or mindfulness sessions with me, before adopting the above exercise in order to achieve their goals.

    Counselling, psychotherapy sessions or a personal development or mindfulness course can also help you to overcome sleep issues or insomnia.

    According to Oxford University Mindfulness Professors, thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers prove that mindfulness enhances mental and physical wellbeing, and that it helps us to overcome sleepless nights and insomnia.

    So if you want to reduce anxiety, stress, depression, exhaustion, sleepiness and insomnia they all decrease with regular sessions of mindfulness exercises and meditations.

    Mindfulness can also help you to improve your reaction times at home and at work.

    Another benefit of mindfulness is that it enhances memory retention and an increase in mental and physical stamina.

    Research also indicates that those of us who practice mindfulness regularly are calmer, happier, more contented and less prone to psychological distress.

    NIGHT NIGHT AND SWEET DREAMS EVERYONE !!!!

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