I remember all too well the frustration. Sometimes you spend hours in bed, unable to get out, yet you just can’t sleep. Other times you end up sleeping, but wake up at 4 a.m., your mind racing with all sorts of negative thoughts.
It’s not just me. Patrick Kennedy and Tricia Goddard, who I interviewed in Back From The Brink, rated getting the right amount of sleep as very important.
Depression both causes and is compounded by sleep disruption. The low energy caused by sleep deprivation also affects your ability to treat depression. How on earth can you make and attend appointments with experts, exercise or eat properly when you are perpetually exhausted?
And socializing? Don’t even go there — the last thing you want to do when tired is talk to people.
But what if you could take control of the situation, finally get a good night’s sleep and enjoy the benefits of restorative sleep and higher energy levels?
With a little bit of willpower and a change in routine, you can do this.
Sleep is important. In fact, respondents to my survey of over 4,000 people rated getting a good night sleep number 10 (out of 60) in importance for overcoming depression and bipolar.
So where do you start in finally getting a good night’s sleep?
In the same way that you maintain personal hygiene through washing your body and oral hygiene by brushing your teeth and flossing, sleep hygiene is a set of practices to follow as a routine, which will yield a good night’s sleep.
As a general point, this is a good idea even for those not suffering from depression, as there are many health benefits to a full night’s sleep.
There’s a huge list of practices which can form part of sleep hygiene, but it’s down to you as to which ones will work best for you. As a general rule of thumb, though, the aim is to create a routine which you can follow and an environment conducive to restful sleep.
I’m going to emphasize a couple here, but the one I recommend most is the one that is hardest to do:
Use your bed only for sleep.
You will find it harder to sleep if you stay in your bed all day, unable to move or act. I know I did.
This is because you end up associating your bed with a general state of inertia, rather than the place in which sleep occurs.
So even if you transfer to a sofa or somewhere else horizontal to lie all day, this is a very important step to take.
Don’t Force Yourself to Sleep
You can’t will yourself to sleep. And getting frustrated at your inability to sleep doesn’t help either. Nor does glancing at the clock every few minutes. Try some meditation exercises in bed, such as paying attention to your breath, which will help clear your mind a little and take attention away from the thoughts racing around in your head.
Have a Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine, regularly followed, signals to your body that it’s time to start winding down, which helps encourage sleep. Things like avoiding upbeat music and stimulants like cigarettes, alcohol and caffeinated drinks and trying a little bit of meditation or yoga, putting on some relaxing music or some lavender essential oil or pillow spray can all help prepare you for sleep.
Maintain the Proper Atmosphere
If your bedroom isn’t a good sleep environment, you’ll find it difficult to relax. A bedroom which is dark, quiet and cool (but not cold) is crucial. Too light and you’ll struggle to sleep. Too noisy and you may be awakened by sounds during the night. If it’s the wrong temperature, you’ll be tossing and turning and kicking off the covers during the night.
Consider having a fan in the room. As well as helping to regulate the temperature, the ‘white noise’ of the fan’s engine can be a helpful noise to tune in to and help encourage sleep.
Sleep Better, Feel Better, Beat Depression
Once your sleep hygiene improves, you will feel more refreshed and energized and really feel the benefits of a good night’s sleep – and wonder why you didn’t initiate good sleep hygiene earlier!
Then you can start making real progress in boosting your mood. Not only will you have the energy and motivation to take action, you’ll also have the practice and experience of making changes to your lifestyle and routine, so you know that you can do it and it is beneficial.
To help you on your way to a better mood, I have created a free 30 Day Mood Boost Challenge. You’ll receive proven daily advice via email to take action which will start you on the path to feeling yourself again. The emphasis is on practicality, so each day you can do something small yet important to help improve your mood. Getting a good night’s sleep will really help you make the most of these opportunities to move toward feeling better for longer.
So why not start the free 30 Day Mood Boost Challenge today? I hope you find it helpful!
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Feb 2014
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Cowan, G. (2014). How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep — Even When You’re Depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/02/12/how-to-get-a-good-nights-sleep-even-when-youre-depressed/