sleep deprivation and its effect on mental health
how to get a good night’s sleep
When it comes to mental health and sleep problems, it is often difficult to determine which is that cause and which the symptom. They are so closely related. It is known that sleep loss can lead to mental health problems. These may include anxiety and depression.
If you are going through a divorce, you may suffer from depression which in turn will impact negatively on your sleep. Lack of sleep makes divorce more difficult to handle.
If you realise that you are experiencing the symptoms of depression, you should seek the help of a professional therapist or counsellor. They are trained to help with counsel and prescribed medicines that can help you to cope.
For most people, the mental health issues will pass with the finalisation of the divorce, but people handle stress differently. Some may take longer than others to recover.
Blood Pressure and Divorce Related Sleep Deprivation
It is common knowledge that to maintain a healthy immune system your body needs plenty of quality sleep. What is less known is that blood pressure problems can result from sleep problems that drag on for protracted periods.
Research carried out on people recently separated and divorced showed that divorce is an indicator for higher pressure. People with the most sleeping problems were likely to develop high blood pressure. Those who were still battling sleeping problems ten weeks or more into the divorce were most likely to develop high blood pressure.
As discussed earlier, research has proven that divorce causes sleep problems. These sleep problems can affect your physiological and mental health. Too little sleep can also make it difficult for you to cope emotionally with the demands of divorce.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep During a Divorce
It is always a good idea to adopt a healthy attitude to sleep and choose good sleep practices. For you struggle to get a good night’s sleep good sleep practices are vital since their adoption can help you to get more REM sleep.
It is during REM sleep that we dream, and as we discussed earlier deep, detailed dreams are a necessary part of coming to terms with divorce and getting on with life.
Divorce is a stressful time. Dreams can help us to manage stress and anxiety. During a divorce or separation, it is more important than ever that you give yourself the best chance of overcoming sleeping problems.
Below we have listed some bedtime practices that may help you to get a better night’s sleep.
Understanding Your Sleep Requirements
Most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. The amount differs from person to person. It is important that you get to bed early enough to ensure that you are at your best in the morning.
Make sure that your room is dark, quiet and not too warm
For the best-uninterrupted sleep make sure that your room is dark. Turn off all lights, buy dark curtains and sleep with a facemask if all else fails. Wear comfortable clothes and if background noises bother you wear earplugs. Make sure that your room is neither too hot nor too cold.
Practice the Same Routines Every Night
Ensure that during the week, you go to bed at the same time and that you have a routine before bedtime that you religiously follow. If you want to break the routine reserve this for weekends.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Any stimulant should be avoided in the evenings to ensure a good, restful night’s sleep.
Switch Those Screens Off
Stay away from electronic devices such as the television, smartphones or computer screens for at least an hour before bedtime. It has been shown that the blue light that these devices emit can prevent sleep. It is far better to find a relaxing pastime such as reading or meditation to help you to switch off before bedtime.
Leave Stressors Outside the Bedroom
Don’t use your bedroom for anything other than sleeping or making love. You should not bring work into the bedroom and you should keep annoyances and irritations outside the door.
Get Enough Exercise, Control Your Diet and Spend Some Time in the Sun
Exercise and a balanced diet will help you to perform at your best and keep you on top form. The warmth of the sun will make you feel better, relieving depression and regulating the circadian clock.
How to Use Relaxation Methods to Fall Asleep
Life’s problems often cause us to turn our troubles over and over in our minds. Instead of relaxing and dosing off to sleep we weigh up all our problems, thinking of all the possible outcomes.
If you’ve learnt how to use calming mechanisms, you’ll be able to relax and divert the troubling thoughts from your mind.
Manipulate your muscles using the power of the mind. You can use this muscle relaxation technique to rid yourself of muscular tension, reduce stress and anxiety and improve the improve the quality of sleep.
This method requires you to breathe in and tense a muscle group such as your calves or thighs for five to ten seconds. Now quickly relax them. Take a twenty-second rest before you move on to the next group of muscles. The tension this muscle group then relax and move on to the next. As you relax the muscles picture the tension leaving your body.
When you breathe mindfully, you immerse yourself in the act of breathing. This technique can help you to relieve stress and tension. Here is how to do it:
- Slowly inhale and exhale ensuring that each breathing phase lasts a minimum of six seconds
- Use your nose to inhale and your mouth to effortlessly exhale
- With each breath release your problems, your tasks and everything that fills your mind
- Allow no negative thoughts to remain in your brain. Let them all exit with the air that you exhale and be aware of the life that each inhalation brings.
Used properly counting meditation is useful in strengthening mental processes and finding profound peace of mind. Monks have used this technique for many centuries to help them to concentrate deeply. The steps to counting meditation are listed below:
- Seat yourself comfortably in a chair, ensuring that the distance between your feet is around 40 to 50cm apart.
- Put the side of your right-hand palm up in your lap.
- Put your left hand on your right in a palm up position
- Put the tips of your thumbs together
- Drop your head so that your chin is tucked in.
- Push the tip of your tongue into your hard palate
- Breathe in slowly through your nose for 3 seconds pushing out your stomach.
- Exhale for four seconds while you suck in your stomach
- Repeat this exercise five times, taking a three-second break between each phase.
As suggested by the name, guided meditation is not self-taught but is guided by an instructor whether in person or through audio or video.
During the instruction, a teacher will take you through various steps. He or she will help to understand what is going through your mind. They will offer you insights into best the practice for each of the steps that you undertake. Your guide will help you to understand how the techniques work and will offer helpful tips on how to fit them into your lifestyle.
Regardless of your level of experience in meditation techniques, a trained instructor can help you to grow your knowledge and expand your techniques so that you can gain more from your meditation experience.
You Don’t Have to Do it Alone – Seek Help
If you are battling cope with your divorce, or if it is affecting your mental health it is best that you seek professional counselling from someone trained in assisting people in such circumstances. Many people don’t realize that difficult personal circumstances such as divorce cause depression and other mental health issues. Some people find it more difficult to come to terms with divorce.
If your divorce is taking an emotional toll on you it is essential that you seek professional help.
Divorce and separation will affect the whole family. It has also been shown to create sleep problems in those going through the process. Divorce is known to cause stress and tension which has a negative effect on the quality of sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause mental health problems. It is therefore vital that you do everything in your power to ensure that you and your family have the best sleep possible under the circumstances.
Looking after health and that of your family and ensuring that you practice a careful bedtime routine will help you to get through the rough spots. Once the divorce is finalised your sleep patterns will slowly return to normal. This situation will not last forever.