Feeling low or anxious? - Are you getting enough sleep?
We've all been there... your alarm goes off and you press snooze. You REALLY don't want to get up just yet. You wish you hadn't stayed up watching the fifth episode of that show or spent that extra hour scrolling on your phone but it is too late now. You are EXHAUSTED. Finally you manage to drag yourself out of bed and the only thing keeping you optimistic about life, is the prospect of the cup of coffee you will have soon. You give up already on the idea of eating healthily today - telling yourself "what is the point, I am so tired" and you know you aren't going to be able to concentrate at work either. You also find yourself feeling on edge for some reason. You look in the mirror and you notice you feel awful about your body too. There are so many negative thoughts running around your head .... can just a few hours' less sleep really leave you feeling so awful?
Many people don't connect how much sleep they are getting (and whether that sleep is good quality) with how they then feel emotionally and psychologically. We know that sleep deprivation makes us feel more lethargic and makes it more difficult for us to concentrate but not getting enough good quality sleep can also make us feel far more anxious and low too. It can cause us to experience more negative thoughts and can make our emotions more volatile. Often a very effective way to improve our mood is to ensure that:
- We are getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night (we need to be in bed for at least 7.5 to 9.5 hours in order to get at least this amount of sleep as it can take us a little while to fall asleep).
- We consistently get enough sleep (we can't just get by on 5/6 hours during the week and then catch up at weekends, in fact this can be very harmful as it can throw our sleep routine off).
- We are getting deep restful sleep (at least on most nights). To ensure this, we ideally want to have been alcohol-free all day and stuck to no more than one cup of coffee before midday.
- We are sleeping in a cool and dark room without any noise or light interruptions.
- We are not napping during the day as this can stop us from getting a restful night's sleep at night.
- We start getting into a sleep routine where we sleep and get up at around the same time every day.
- We are not using the snooze button lots every morning (it is far more helpful to just set your alarm for the latest possible time you can get up and then put your phone across the room so that you are forced to wake up).
Now those with small children or puppies will know that getting good sleep every night is not always possible. However, when it is just Facebook, Netflix and procrastination standing in our way of that restful sleep, perhaps the reason we aren't sleeping enough is actually that we just aren't prioritising it enough. If someone was to offer you a treatment which would allow you to boost your metabolism, age-better, regulate your blood sugar levels, reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, reduce your risk of struggling with depression or anxiety... as well as offering a whole host of other benefits (and it was free)... you would probably go for this treatment. This treatment is sleep - getting enough of it and getting good quality sleep.
As getting enough and good quality sleep is also very important for regulating our blood sugar levels, our hormones and our metabolism, often a key step in rebuilding someone's relationship with food is actually shifting and improving their relationship with sleep too. We all know that sleep deprivation can make us crave sugary and fatty foods far more than we usually do and that our willpower goes out of the window when we are tired. Sleep really is such a miracle tool for improving every aspect of our mental, physical and emotional health.
Do you feel that sleep is really a priority for you in your life?
”The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” – E. Joseph Cossman