Thursday, November 11, 2010

Therapeutic Thursday: Talking about Sleep

I think we all agree that sleep is necessary and pleasurable. Some of the reasons that we need sleep are:
⇒ It is a way of recharging the brain and processing newly learned information and storing memories.
⇒ Sleep helps lowers your metabolic rate and energy consumption.
⇒ The cardiovascular system also gets a break during sleep. People with normal or high blood pressure experience a 20 to 30% reduction in blood pressure and 10 to 20% reduction in heart rate.
⇒ The body replaces chemicals and repair muscles, other tissues and aging or dead cells.
Regardless of the benefits, sometimes we struggle with sleep. Here are some tips to help try and get a good night’s sleep:

• Do not nap during the day. Napping throws off your body clock and makes it more difficult to sleep at night.

• Limit caffeine and alcohol. Avoid drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages for several hours before bedtime.

• Expose yourself to bright light/sunlight soon after awakening. This will help to regulate your body's natural biological clock.

• Exercise early in the day. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise every day can help you sleep, but be sure to exercise in the morning or afternoon.

• Check your iron level. Iron deficient women tend to have more problems sleeping.

• Make sure your bed is large enough and comfortable.

• Make your bedroom primarily a place for sleeping. It is not a good idea to use your bed for doing work, watching T.V. etc. Help your body recognize that this is a place for rest or intimacy.

• Keep your bedroom peaceful and comfortable. Make sure your room is well ventilated and the temperature is consistent, and try to keep it quiet.

• Hide your clock. An illuminated digital clock may cause you to focus on the time and make you feel stressed and anxious.

• Keep a regular schedule. Keeping a regular schedule will help your body expect sleep at the same time each day.

• Incorporate bedtime rituals. Listening to soft music, sipping a cup of herbal tea, etc., cues your body that it's time to slow down and begin to prepare for sleep.

A Focused Centered Art Therapy Exercise for Sleep:
Start by getting comfortable, feeling grounded in your chair and noticing your legs. Take a minute to notice if your legs are tired, energized or relaxed. Notice the chair under your legs and adjust yourself to get even more comfortable in your chair. Take a deep breath into your stomach. As you pause here, staying with your stomach, notice if you sense any colour, shape or image. Bring awareness to your back, chest and arms. Notice if there is any tension and gently releasing it. Take time to sense into your hands, stretching the fingers. Bring awareness to your neck, head and gently turn inward, sensing into your inner throat, chest and then resting in the belly area.

Give yourself a gentle invitation to focus on the part of you that struggles with sleep. Take some time to notice where in your body you sense this part, and what it has to tell you. You might write down or draw what it wants. By bringing a quality of gentleness and acceptance to the part of you that struggles with sleep, you can hear from its point of view, what it is needing. Give it space to be heard and expressed. Sense how it feels. You may ask it if it is protecting you from anything.

Now give yourself a gentle invitation to focus on the part of you that wants to sleep. Take some time to notice where in your body you sense this part, and listen it what it has to say. You may want to write or draw this response.

Now take a moment and see if you can be with both parts, just as they are. When you are ready, write or draw this final response.

Now imagine yourself sleeping. Take a few minutes and check in with these two parts and notice any shift or change in your physical body sensations, emotions or thinking.

Resources for information on Sleep:

This is a CD that I recommend clients buy:


Elena said...

Great suggestions. Sometimes sleep is like having a train ticket to another land. Some of the things that have been popping up in my dreams has been interesting.

E Makes Art said...

What a great post! I needed a reminder to get more sleep and make a few changes. Thank you.



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