Tag Archives: strategies for better sleep

Sleepy Nation

Microbursts of sleep refers to periods of sudden somnolence that last from a few to several seconds. People who experience these episodes may doze off without realizing it.
It can occur anywhere, such as at work, at school, or while watching TV. Episodes of microsleep can also happen while driving or operating machinery, which makes this a dangerous condition. People may fall asleep at a stoplight, in a restaurant, at the theater, or at a work meeting. In addition to the potential for serious physical harm to self or others, these bursts of sleep can cause embarrassment and secondary problems (hitting your head, work problems, falling on another person, dropping or breaking items).
Microbursts of sleep happen when parts of your brain are asleep and other parts remain awake.
Warning signs of an episode of microsleep include:
  • inability to keep eyes open
  • excessive yawning
  • body jerks and head bobs
  • constantly blinking or widening eyes to stay awake
  • sudden onset of severe fatigue
  • short REM latencies (entering REM sleep very quickly)
  • feeling foggy; not being able to concentrate on a task or conversation
  • making careless mistakes (inattention to detail)
  • slow processing speed and task completion
  • impaired fine motor skills
Why does our brain go into a shut down and reboot? The biggest culprit is sleep deprivation.
Causes can include:
  • medical concerns (sleep apnea, restless leg and movement disorders, perimenopause, chronic pain, frequent urination)
  • shift work: overnight schedules and changing hours make it difficult for our brains to adjust
  • circadian rhythms that are irregular. Even DST can affect sleep for days to weeks
  • medications: stimulants like Concerta and Adderall may result in fatigue and sleepiness when they ‘wear off’.  Others cause excessive sleepiness if not timed properly, including antihistamines and even melatonin
  • alcohol and substance abuse
  • anxiety/worry/depression
  • boredom: repetitive tasks; solitary work; long drives; excessive sitting
  • ‘revenge insomnia’ is the tendency to purposefully stay up late binge watching, scrolling, chatting, gaming, after working all day. It’s reclaiming ‘me time’ with a cost and can be beguiling for those who work long hours
What to do:
  • Address underlying medical issues. Sleep studies may also be required. A single study or examination may only reveal a partial picture.
  • Get enough sleep. Prioritize rest and listen to your body. The average adult becomes sleepy after being awake for about 7-8 hours. Even with formulas for how much you ‘should be sleeping,’ how you sleep is highly individualized. More more info read: Got Sleep.
  • Exercise and get daily sunlight during the day.
  • When you feel tired, don’t push yourself into continuing to work. You’re not getting much work done anyway. Reboot by resting and starting again later.
  • Reframe attitudes about resting. The old adages about ‘toughing it out’ are not helpful for our mental, cognitive, or physical health.
  • Sleep well before road trips or long tasks. If possible, drive with a passenger. Avoid driving at times when you naturally feel tired, such as times you’re normally asleep, near dusk, or during your post-lunch or afternoon lull. Stop often and get out of the car.
  • Talk to other people. Neuropsychological research shows that conversation and social interaction reduce sleepiness. One study also found that hearing your own name was more effective than other auditory input for attention during a vigilance test.
  • Don’t rely on loud music. Loud volume won’t do much to keep you awake while driving. Some research suggests that the brain may not be registering auditory inputs during periods of microsleep.
  • Caffeine helps a little. It takes a while to kick in and only provides a moderate effect for a couple of hours. You can also have a high tolerance if you frequently use caffeine.
  • Take movement breaks. Fidgeting, stretching, and moving keeps the mind more engaged. Take regular breaks and stretch if you are sitting for long periods of time.
  • Rest when you are tired.
  • Most importantly, work with your own circadian rhythms, schedule, and responsibilities as much as possible. These vary. Micro sleep is our brain trying to function and rest at the same time. Work with it, not against it.

The Mental Health Bedroom: Making Your Room a Sanctuary

How to make your room a sanctuary.

Sleep-only zone
Studies have shown that if you engage in a number of activities in your bedroom, you will come to think of your room as a place of activity and even stress rather than one of relaxation and peacefulness. So, out go the exercise equipment, office set-up, computer, textbooks, television, snacks and that mound of clothes you’ve been meaning to launder. Of course, there are exceptions to the sleeping-only rule. These are reading, dressing, relaxing to music, and of course, intimacy.

Declutter
Your brain is actually calmed by the sight of an empty or well-organized table top or dresser top. Decluttering at night, before bed, will keep your room feeling less like a busy traffic lane, and more like a private oasis.

Out of mind
Closed storage can be anything from a dresser or armoire with doors, to simple baskets or boxes. The idea is to put out of sight all those items that used to live on the top of your nightstand or dresser. It’s a good idea to have a small tray or drawer to corral the keys and pens and change that you might empty out of your pockets when you get home, but everything else should be put away, out of sight. You’ll feel instantly more relaxed when you put “Out of sight, out of mind” to work in your bedroom. If you have something that needs to be done, like a bill or email, do it in another part of the house. Your bedroom should be for relaxing and resting only, not working.

Have a seat
If you have room, it’s a great idea to have an extra chair or bench in your bedroom. It just feels more homey when you can carve out a little bit of sitting area, such as a reading corner by a window or lamp.

Cool down your bedroom
Try to crank up the air conditioning a little more at night before bed. Cooling down your body actually mimics sleep and promotes sleepiness.

White noise machines
Noise can also affect your sleep in a negative way. When you hear sounds, your brain tries to actively process them, which can cause problems when you’re trying to fall asleep. While noise affects everyone differently—some are more sensitive to it than others—it’s still important to create a quiet environment as possible for a good night’s sleep.

Write a single sentence
Simply write one sentence in a journal that you keep by your bedside, every night. It helps you reflect on the day, consider your word choice, and summarize your thoughts. It’s a powerful way to close the day.

Add some greenery
Add greenery to your room but if you don’t want to add the stress of keeping it alive, choose one of the low-maintenance, hard-to-kill indoor plants, such as English Ivy or a Snake Plant.

Soft music
Music does wonders to set the mood. In the case of your bedroom, your objective is to create a peaceful, relaxing mood, so choose your music accordingly. Whether you prefer soft jazz, classical, world, or trip hop, keep the beat and the sound soft and calm. Keep the volume low. Set the music to shut off automatically after a certain amount of time, because even though the soft sounds may lull you to sleep, they are likely to wake you during the night.

Aromatherapy
Your sense of smell is a very powerful thing. It is our only sense that goes directly into our brains. Smells enter our nostrils and up the olfactory nerve onto the surface of our brain. Integrating essential oils like lavender and chamomile into your bedtime routine can work wonders at keeping your mind calm and centered. These scents can also get the brain to release the hormone melatonin. When that hormone is released, it washes over the brain and uses it as a signal to shut down all those distracting thoughts and just go to sleep.

Podcasts
Listening to podcasts is a great way to lull yourself to sleep without the intrusive glare of television, telephone, laptop, or tablet screens. Find some podcasts that are soothing to you.

Relaxation apps
The Calm App (Android and Apple) has sleep meditations, breathing exercises, bedtime stories, and white noise to promote sleep and relaxation.

Yoga Nidra
This is an ancient breath work tradition used to battle insomnia and facilitate deep rest. https://www.yoganidranetwork.org/downloads

For more tips check out, Making Sleep Your Best Friend. 

Embolden Psychology
Embolden

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

Thank you for contacting us.