One question I always make a point to ask many of my clients is, "How are you sleeping?" My main reason for doing so is to gain more insight in to what troubles or issues they may be experiencing as the result of their sleeping pattern. It is also to identify any worries or fears they may not realize they are having. The three sleep patterns that often give me an indication of an underlying problem are:
1) Trouble falling asleep - the inability to fall asleep can manifest in many different ways ranging from tossing and turning to feeling "worked up," "fully alert" or anxious. Some common culprits that can account for difficulty falling asleep can be light emanating from electronic devices like a television, a laptop, an LCD clock radio, etc. Other culprits like outside noise, an uncomfortable temperature (i.e too hot, too cold), sleeping arrangements (i.e. snoring partner, uncomfortable pillows, etc.) can also impact the ability to fall asleep. If you believe any of the aforementioned may be an issue, try experimenting with shutting off the electronics, adjusting the room temperature to one that is comfortable for you, and if possible, modifying your sleeping arrangements.
2) Trouble Staying Asleep - the inability to stay asleep can often present itself by causing a person to wake up at various hours of the night often with a sense of panic or feeling fully alert. For many of my clients, the root cause is anxiety. Depending on a person's specific situation, my recommendation often entails having clients journal their thoughts, turning around their clocks so as to prevent any additional worry that can result from keeping track of how many hours they have left to sleep, and/or breathing exercises.
3) Sleeping Too Much - if the desire to stay in bed all day is combined with a sense of despair, gloom, and/or lack of motivation that are atypical of your usual routine, then it is important to identify whether depression may be to blame. Any changes in sleep, eating, weight and mood can be indications of a serious problem which need to be addressed so as to prevent it from getting worse. To learn more on how to get help for depression or to help someone who is depressed, click here.
Overall, it is my belief that sleep is an extremely powerful tool that can help us restore the energy we have used up throughout the day. I also personally believe it can help our recovery process, improve our mood and can provide insight in to what we may be struggling with. So, how are you sleeping and what are your personal thoughts about its importance for your well-being? Feel free to share below.