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To sleep; perchance to dream…

To sleep; perchance to dream (Shakespeare)

Sleep can be enjoyable, frightening (those darn scary dreams), elusive, too short, too long, done at different times, alone or with others; people, cats dogs, iguanas.

Sleep can be blissful or disrupted, wanted or unwanted.

One thing I know as a therapist is that quality sleep and tone of dreams is a window into the soul and general wellbeing.

Our “circadian rhythm is “a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals.  It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle.  (National Sleep Foundation, What is Circadian Rhythm? 2018).

When life and work intrudes on our circadian rhythm; when we don’t sleep when we are tired, when we lay awake with worry, when we work shifts and watch TV. or look at our smart phones all night our sleep/wake cycle becomes out of whack and this seriously undermines our mental and physical health.

When someone comes to see me part of my general assessment is around sleep habits and current patterns.  Often people are not aware that their sleep habits and patterns are contributing to their decline in mood or health concerns.

Sleep can be seen as the cause and symptom of mental health issues, the ‘chicken and the egg” so to speak; if you are upset about something sleep will become disrupted and without sleep our brains just don’t function well and we won’t be able to cope as well with what life gives us.

A CNN report on a recent sleep study stated exactly that.  If your sleep is poor your mood will be low. (CNN- Health 2018)

“Sleep hygiene” is a term used a lot these days and there is much written about what will help to improve sleep; being mindful of our circadian rhythm (tough if you work nights), less “screen time” at night, less or no caffeine, daylight activity, ensuring bedroom or area is conducive to sleep, journaling worries prior to bed, relaxation/mindfulness, bedtime yoga.

If you are noticing your mood and sleep patterns are both “out of whack” don’t be surprised.  Our brains need sleep to help us to concentrate, remember, make decisions, process what is underneath the business of the day through our dreams and allowing our body to honour our sleep cycle (check “sleep cycle” out on Wikipedia or other resources)

A therapist can help when your mood and sleep is “out of whack”, contact me if you would like to come for a session and explore this topic or others further.

Barb Larkin, MSW, RSW

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