One Week Toward Less Stress-Day 3

Over the past few days we have been examining ways to reduce the stress many of us are feeling these days. So far we have considered…

Step #1 Get Outside!

Step #2 Get Some Exercise!

Today we consider Step #3 Get Enough Sleep!

Somehow, as a culture, we have come to value sleep deprivation! As if being able to function on minimal sleep is a badge of honor…a sign that we are being super productive. It’s not! This view has come at a serious price to our physical and mental health. We will be more productive and clearer thinking if we get adequate sleep. Sleep is our brain’s fuel, our mind’s time to rest and recharge!

Lack of sleep may contribute to:

  • Increased levels of cortisol (stress hormones) leading to increased stress and an inability to relax
  • Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Poorer outcomes for treatment of depression
  • Increased irritability
  • Increased impulsivity
  • Increased negative thinking
  • Poorer decision making and problem solving
  • Increased behavior problems in children

How much sleep do we need? The CDC recommends:

  • Adults  7-9 hrs/night
  • Teenagers 8-10 hrs/24 hrs
  • School Age Children  8-12 hrs/24hrs

So how do we do this?

  1. Prioritize getting a good night’s sleep for yourself and your family. Plan your schedule around it instead of going to bed after everything else is done!
  2. Get up in the morning and go to bed about the same time every day.
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Keep your bedroom dark and free of distractions.
  5. Discontinue use of screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  6. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but increases the likelihood that you will wake up after a few hours.
  7. Limit napping to 20-30 minutes/day
  8. Avoid caffeine in late afternoon.

A good night’s sleep helps foster clear thinking and emotional resilience, couldn’t we all use more of that right now?!

About Gretchen D. Woosley, MSW, LCSW

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in a private psychotherapy practice where I specialize in work with families and children. My focus is to help families improve their functioning so that each member of the family can reach their full potential, becoming the persons they were meant to be.
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