Do you feel as if you're getting as much sleep as anybody else, but you're still waking up tired? Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep once you do? You're probably not alone.
Many people in our modern society are chronically sleep deprived. We are continuously stressed and running short on time. To further complicate matters, we tend to depend upon caffeine, cigarettes and sugar as substitutes for what only a good night's sleep can provide.
Sleep patterns and mood are intimately related. Sleep deprivation makes us irritable and depressed. Many of us become so desperate to get a good night's sleep that we resort to medications. But is that really necessary? Perhaps the best medicine of all is to really start listening to your body instead of working against its needs.
How to Establish Good Sleep Patterns:
- Determine the number of hours you need to feel rested.
Don't worry if you don't fit into the "norm" of eight hours. A good guideline to start with is how many hours you sleep when you "sleep in" on the weekends.
- Calculate a bedtime that will allow you to get this many hours and wake up at a reasonable hour (for example, when you need to get ready for work).
- The first day, wake yourself at the time you would like to be your usual waking time -- whether you are rested or not. You may need help from a friend, relative or alarm clock the first few days.
- Throughout the day, resist the urge for a nap.
- Limit your intake of caffeine. Do not consume any caffeine after mid-afternoon. Its effects can take hours to wear off. You will eventually find that you are getting enough rest and don't need an extra boost in the morning to wake up.
- A couple of hours before bedtime, begin to allow yourself to wind down. A regular evening ritual, like taking a bath, can help you relax and will signal your body that it's time to rest.
- If you feel tense, try chamomile tea, soft music, scented candles, a hot bath or a massage. You can also try Kava, Valerian, or melatonin, but be sure to consult with your doctor before trying these, or any, supplements. (Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone associated with the sleep cycle.)
- Avoid over-the-counter and prescription sleep medications and alcohol. Although you may fall asleep, your rest will not be gentle and natural. You will feel groggy in the morning.
- If you are troubled by racing thoughts that just won't stop, get up and do something to keep yourself occupied until the thoughts subside. They'll pass much more quickly this way.
- Get up at your predetermined time, no matter how tired you may feel.
- Repeat the above steps until you are able to fall asleep on time and wake up rested. This will generally take 2 to 3 days.
- Don't despair if you have to be sleepy for a couple of days to get back on track. For most people, these steps will work if followed faithfully.
- Keep a regular schedule, even on weekends. If you do, every day will feel as glorious as "sleeping in" on the weekends.
- If keeping a regular sleep schedule is not working for you, consult an expert for further assistance. Certain sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, have been associated with depression.
Never do today what you can put off for tomorrow. Better yet, never put off 'til tomorrow what you can avoid altogether!
I don't know who coined these phrases, but they must have been a depressive. The symptoms that we face, such as fatigue and hopelessness, make it so easy to say to ourselves, "I'll just put this off until tomorrow when I feel better". Before we know it, that deadline is creeping up on us and we're starting to panic. What's the best way to deal with panic? Hide your head in the sand and hope it goes away! Not really, but procrastination an easy habit to fall into and as the panic mounts, so does the depression. The more depressed we get, the more we avoid reality.
Why We Procrastinate
Why do we fall into the procrastination trap time after time? Because procrastination becomes a way--no matter how maladaptive-- of coping with the emotions and physical symptoms that accompany depression. It may bring some temporary relief, but we eventually wake up the following day and find that no brownies have dropped in overnight and done our work for us.
Which style of procrastination fits you?
- Organizing thoughts and actions and keeping on track with plans is difficult. (People with ADD/ADHD may fall into this category.)
- Tasks seem overwhelming so it's futile to even try.
- Hostile feelings towards someone cause you to want to punish them by putting things off.
- Routine and schedule causes you to feel rebellious.
- You fear disapproval.
These procrastination styles can overlap in one of four themes:
Self-Doubt - These people feel there are rigid standards about how thing ought to be done and they fear they will fail. They second-guess themselves and delay taking action.
Discomfort Dodging - This person avoids activities that will cause them distress, discomfort or anxiety. Rather ironically, the act of dodging the activity doesn't make it go away so tensions mount because of this avoidance.
Guilt-Driven - The person feels guilt over tasks undone, but rather than correct the original lack of action continues to procrastinate in order to not face up to the guilt feelings.
Habitual - The person has procrastinated so many times, it becomes an ingrained response. The person no longer thinks about why they do it, they feel it's just a part of themselves. It becomes an automatic response to say, "This is too hard", "I'm too tired", or to laugh it off as a character flaw.
Once you recognize your style of procrastination, you can take steps to stop it.