The Dali Lama once said that “sleep is the best meditation.”
If you're having trouble sleeping, it's very difficult to feel at peace or to calm an anxious mind. It's also difficult to manage daily stress without a good night's sleep.
Many Americans have problems with sleep deprivation, and chronic sleep problems affect as many as 80 percent of people with mental health concerns.
Problems falling asleep, staying asleep, and not achieving restful sleep are all linked to physical and mental health problems. With more than 70 different sleep disorders, it can be difficult to determine why people struggle to sleep. What is most important is to develop awareness of the symptoms of sleep problems:
  1. Feeling tired even after a normal sleep cycle.
  2. Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  3. Consistently taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
  4. Difficulty concentrating during the day.
  5. Needing to take frequent naps to make it through the day.
  6. Heavy snoring or breathing problems during sleep.
  7. Involuntary movement of the legs or tingly feeling in the legs.
  8. Mood disturbance such as anxiety or depression.
  9. General lack of energy.
  10. Decreased quality of life.
Developing a healthy sleep cycle is one of the keys to good health, yet sleep is often neglected as an important component of your physical and mental health.  

Strategies to Help You Sleep

Consider the following strategies to address problems with sleep:
  1. Talk with your primary medical doctor to rule out any medical or medication problems that can contribute to sleep problems.
  2. Your bedroom needs darkness, comfortable temperatures and minimal distractions.
  3. Limit all technology use for at least one hour prior to bedtime.
  4. If you struggle to fall asleep, get out of bed and engage in a non-stimulating activity like reading a book or listening to soothing music. 
  5. Develop a consistent sleep schedule.
  6. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine at least four hours before bedtime.
  7. Move clocks out of your view.
  8. Avoid eating large meals three hours before bedtime.
  9. Don't nap for more than an hour or late in the day.
  10. Consider meditation or some other relaxation strategy to help you prepare for bed.

Sleep Assessment

If you're still having trouble sleeping after trying these strategies, you might have a sleep problem. Menninger offers sleep assessment to help individuals explore potential problems with their sleep; the assessment takes place at the Bellaire location of Outpatient Services. After the assessment, you'll receive recommendations to address potential sleep problems. 
Request your sleep assessment by calling us at 713-275-5400.
John O'Neill, EdD, LCSW, LCDC, CAS, is the clinical program director at the Bellaire location of Outpatient Services.