Taking Charge of Sleep: Part Two

In an interview with Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon, Dr. Thomas Wehr (NIMH) said, "Grief, which leads to depression, disrupts your sleep one way; falling in love, which can lead to mania, disrupts your sleep another way."

It’s no secret that sleep is tough to get when you’re stressed out. One study found that sleeping for six hours or less was more common among divorced and separated men and women than among adults in other marital groups (Schoenborn & Adams, 2010). This is a problem, because while some adults may require more or less sleep, 7-8 hours of sleep is believed to be a healthy amount (NINDS, 2007).

So, what can you do? Try to maintain a regular schedule. When you don’t have your kids, make sure you get the rest you require. You’re not much use to anyone exhausted and sick.

Caffeine after 1 pm will make it hard for you to sleep. Try cutting your consumption down to no more than two cups of Joe a day (or the equivalent), and have all of it before the afternoon.

If you want to pleasure of coffee, order a 1/2 caff when you go to the coffee shop. This way, you get the experience and pleasure of coffee with half of the caffeine. And don’t underestimate the amount of caffeine in one of our favorite comfort foods—chocolate. It has a ton of it.

At bedtime, a good book, a cozy couch, chamomile tea, and perhaps some soothing music can help settle you down. Melatonin is the only hormone secreted exclusively during sleep, and a small, non-addictive dose from a health food store may promote a good night’s rest for some people.

Be cautious of using alcohol as a sleep-inducing agent because it will work poorly and ultimately lead to dependence. Booze may put you to bed, but it’ll almost certainly give you REM rebound and wake you up four or five hours later more restless than you were before.

When nothing else works, you may want to temporally use a hypnotic agent prescribed by your doctor. This is a second choice, but when sleep is elusive, it may be needed.

Comments

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