The brain and the body need sleep to fully recharge and restore maximum functioning. A lack of sleep can affect the brain by leading to increased irritability, slower thinking, and depression (1). Reduced sleep can also cause increased blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and reduced immunity within the body. Problems with sleep may be caused by poor sleep hygiene, nutritional imbalances, and physical ailments (1). Sleep is especially critical for the adolescent population. Children between five and twelve years of age need about ten to eleven hours of sleep each night. Adults should aim for seven hours of slumber. When the brain does not get time to rest it can cause neurotransmitter and hormone changes that affect the neuronal network (1). In my medical practice, individuals with sleep problems often have a higher prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder, depression, inattention, and other behavioral concerns.
Techniques for Better Sleep
- Set a consistent sleep schedule (Try to daily go to bed and wake up at the same time).
- Exercise regularly, but slow activity 3 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before bedtime as this stimulates the brain to remain awake.
- Alcohol too close to bedtime can interfere with quality of sleep which may cause morning fatigue.
- Avoid late afternoon napping as this can disrupt your internal clock making it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Unplug from devices an hour before bed. In addition to the screen light waking up your internal clock, mind stimulating activities can make it hard to slow down.
- Keep your room comfortable. The ideal sleeping environment is cool, dark, and quiet.
- Only use your bed for sleep. In doing so you will train your body to think of your bed as a restful space.
- Greenblatt J, & Lee W. (2019). Integrative Medicine for Depression: A Breakthrough Treatment Plan that Eliminates Depression Naturally. Victoria, BC: Friesen Press.