Following our first ‘Getting A Great Night’s Sleep With…’ feature with Sue Radford, our second see’s us chatting with Karyn McLoughlin of KJM Counselling in Preston. We wanted to bring a number of top tips and some great expert advice as to how you can ‘clear your head before bed‘ and, as such, thought the perfect person to speak with was a professional counsellor!
1. How Important Do You Believe Sleep To Be To Our Overall Mental Wellbeing?
Sleep is very important to our emotional and physical wellbeing. A good night’s sleep gives your body a rest and allows your mind to process and restore itself. Without regular sleep, we can become cranky and moody; we cannot think properly and this can lead our mental wellbeing being compromised. Sleep deprivation has been shown to make conditions such as anxiety and depression worse, creating a vicious circle.
2. What Are Your Top Tips For Clearing Your Head Before Bed?
We all have busy lives that seem to take up all of our time/thoughts. It is often hard to switch off when we finally collapse into bed after a busy day, with many of us thinking about our next busy day. It is important to have a good bedtime routine and see that sleep is an important part of your day, not just an inconvenient interruption!
Unwinding and relaxing can help clear your mind before going to bed. Reduce stimulating activity such as watching the TV in bed or using electronic gadgets. Try reading with soft lighting or listening to music before you get into bed. Using Essential oils can have a calming effect. Have a pen and paper on your bedside table so you can write a to do list – write things down as they pop into your head, to do in the morning, then they are less likely to buzz around your head while you are trying to sleep.
3. On The Other Side, Sleep Can Often Be Seen As A Way To Hide Away From Problems. What Are Your Thoughts On This?
I feel that you are less likely to sleep if you have major problems/issues that are playing on your mind. You cannot ‘hide away’ from what is in your head – you take it with you wherever you go and that includes bed.
4. Can Poor Sleep Contribute To Worsening Conditions Such As Anxiety? Similarly, Can A Great Night’s Sleep Help In These Areas?
Poor sleep is seen as a major factor in anxiety conditions. Sleep deprivation does not allow your brain to rest and process events in your life. Getting a good nights’ sleep is important for conditions such as depression and anxiety as it allows your brain to think more clearly and can keep things in perspective, therefore boosting peoples moods and feelings of general wellbeing.
5. At What Stage Should An Individual Consider Counselling When Their Problems Are ‘Keeping Them Awake At Night’?
Depending on what is keeping you awake at night, you may benefit from seeing a professional counsellor. You may be having feelings of anxiety or feeling depressed due to specific reasons, such as stresses of everyday life or something that has happened to you in the past. Seeking help from a professional and when to seek it is very much down to the individual: when you feel it is time to change and you are ready for that change.
6. Can Counselling Help Individuals To Understand Why They Can’t Sleep? Perhaps One Knows They Suffer From Insomnia But Can’t Pin Down Why?
If you feel like you have a good bedtime routine and that there is nothing physical stopping you from sleeping, such as a lumpy mattress or a snoring partner, counselling may help identify what it is that is keeping you awake at night. By talking about the thoughts and feelings you have whizzing around your head whilst you try to get to sleep, you may be able to process those thoughts with the help of a professional counsellor.
7. Lastly, Is There Anything You Can Recommend To Our Readers To Help Them On Their Way To Clearing Their Heads? Books? Apps?
Websites such as Sleepcouncil.org and the National Sleep Foundation can provide you with a lot of self-help on how to get a better nights’ sleep. You can download apps or buy CD’s of relaxing sounds such as sounds of the sea or relaxing music. Even what you eat can affect you sleep. A lot of research has been done into the scientific reason some foods are better than others to eat. There is even some merit in the notion a milky drink before bed can help you sleep. And while we’re talking of what your granny said will get you off to sleep – counting sheep can work as it focuses your mind on one thing, rather than lots of ‘stuff’ flying round your head.
What fantastic responses! It’s clear that a lack of sleep can be a huge contributing factor to conditions such as anxiety and, as such, stresses the importance even more so of why you need to get a great night’s sleep! Whilst the right bedding, pillows and duvet can certainly help you to sleep well, if you’re struggling to clear your head, speaking with a professional may well help to get things back on track!