4 Daily Rituals Proven to Relieve Insomnia

Calming bottle of aromatherapy

Almost all of us have times that we have trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep. Others may experience restless, choppy, wakeful sleep cycles. Many of us probably tell ourselves — and others — that we have “insomnia.”

But according to clinicians, for insomnia to be considered a chronic problem, it must significantly impact our lives, and it must be present at least 3 days a week for 3 months. In fact — and unfortunately — many of us actually fit this criteria, with as much as 30% of adults experiencing intermittent insomnia, and 10% experiencing it chronically.

Many insomnia sufferers don’t seek treatment, and others find the commonly doled out treatment ideas to be unsuccessful. But sleep-deprivation is something that can impact our lives in significant ways, exacerbating our physical and mental health, as well as our ability to perform basic tasks safely and efficiently.

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How to Calm Your Mind When You Can’t Sleep

Comfortable bed with messy sheets

I’ve been a light sleeper since birth, but deep into my 20s, I’ve found myself confronting a new problem: nights spent staring at the ceiling waiting desperately for sleep. A series of big life changes — a new marriage, home, job, and puppy — turned my once-calm mind into a spinning series of worries and to-do lists.

In fact, I swore my brain grew wilder and more active after nightfall.

I’m not alone. Restless nights spent struggling to sleep are an age-old problem. The earliest cavemen probably tossed on their rocks, and even the richest among us lay exhausted (yet awake) on their 100% cotton sheets. But when a few nights of restlessness become a never-ending half-slumber, insomnia can wreak havoc on the human body — and the brain. Continue reading How to Calm Your Mind When You Can’t Sleep

6 Ways Sex Is Good for Your Health

Pensive young woman lounging at home

The following is intended for readers 18+

Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, that person’s miserable! They need to get laid!”?

Well, that comment may be offensive and unnecessary, but it isn’t completely wrong. Sex may not be a cure-all (though I wish it were) — but it can have a measurably positive impact on your mood, as well as your physical health!

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Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Dreams

Woman in field of flowers

Dreams have been viewed as a key to the unconscious mind ever since 1899, when Sigmund Freud wrote his canonical text The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud theorized that dreams act as a mental safety valve, allowing individuals to experiment with what it might feel like to act out negative emotions, fantasies, or impulses in a “safe” space, not the waking world.

While Freud’s dream theory has been an important contribution in the history of psychology and psychoanalysis, it has since been discredited as unscientific — along with his idea that analyzing dreams can uncover the root cause of a patient’s neurosis, usually a repressed traumatic event experienced as a child.

But the purpose of dreams, and their possible connection to both our subconscious and conscious minds, continues to fascinate neuroscientists and psychologists alike.

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The Surprising New Connection between Sleep and Mental Health

Woman with alarm clock

Sleep research is gradually establishing itself as an important field, and a recent study focusing on the relationship between insomnia and depression may have useful implications for mental health practitioners.

Insomnia is generally regarded as a core symptom of depression, but new research shows that it may actually be a cause of it. The study, which was conducted by sleep researchers at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, found that “sleep disruption is a driving factor in the occurrence of paranoia, hallucinatory experiences, and other mental health problems in young adults with an average age of 25.”

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Sleeping With Anxiety: 5 Tips to Stop Sharing a Bed With Your Worries

woman in bed anxiety light on

Despite advances in neuroscience during the past several decades, sleep continues to remain mostly a mystery. We know we need it as much as water, food and air. We can go weeks without eating food, but what would happen if you went weeks without sleep? Maybe you have. Various degrees of insomnia, and official sleep disorders, are serious conditions. But, what about periodic anxieties that are significant enough to disrupt our sleep. Missing one night of sleep can disrupt our normal biorhythms enough to disrupt the next night’s, and the next!

Anxiety, for the most part, originates in the mind. The body sensations and feelings we have surrounding anxiety occur because of the psychosomatic nature of our mind-body system. In other words, when we think about situations, even if subconsciously, that appear to be in some way a threat or potential danger, hormones and chemicals are secreted from glands which then give rise to the physiological experiences of tension, tightness, constriction.

These are useful in fight or flight situations, which we believe, at a subconscious level, exist — even if they don’t. The perceived threat or danger is mostly psychological and consists of “what if” statements and pictures in the mind, that are at best unpleasant, and at most, lifestyle threatening. Most all, anxiety is about a future that is, factually, unknown. Anxiety is based on a lot of conjecture.

If you’re too anxious to sleep, there are things you can do to help set up an environment, both internal and external, more conducive to sleep. Consider these tips: Continue reading Sleeping With Anxiety: 5 Tips to Stop Sharing a Bed With Your Worries

How Sleep Deprivation Hurts Your Mental Health

woman asleep at desk

Many of us wear our lack of sleep as a badge of honor. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013 sleep deprivation was responsible for 72,000 crashes and 800 deaths. The numbers may be slightly underreported; the real number could be closer to 6,000 fatalities.

Many of us look at sleep as a barrier to success, fun and self-fulfillment, even though sleep deprivation is physiologically and psychologically dangerous. Lack of sleep has been cited as cause in disasters such as the Chernobyl meltdown, the space shuttle Challenger explosion and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It’s time to face up to the risks associated with our culture of sleep deprivation. Continue reading How Sleep Deprivation Hurts Your Mental Health

The Surprising Way Your Sleep Position Affects Your Brain!

The Surprising Way Your Sleep Position Affects Your Brain!

New research suggests our preferred sleep positions influence the brain’s ability to get rid of metabolic waste, which ultimately affects our overall cognitive function and the manifestation of neurological disease. So, pay attention.

You may or may not be aware that our brains engage in a cleansing process that gets rid of metabolic waste when we go sleep. It’s called the glymphatic system, and it’s super cool! Here’s a brief educational video about how it works from our friends at The University of Rochester Medical School.

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Dear Therapist: I Know You Can’t Help Me Unless I Sleep

Dear Therapist_I Know You Can’t Help Me Unless I Sleep

As a chronic insomniac, I can honestly tell you that getting enough sleep is crucial for anyone, but especially for those battling mental health disorders.

– by Anonymous Talkspace User  

I want you to look back on your life and think about your mood, behavior, and interactions with other people when you’ve had less than 5 hours of sleep. You were probably irritable, highly susceptible to engaging in conflict, and slow in you thinking but quick in your reactions to unpleasant stimuli. Now, imagine being sleep deprived, while also dealing with a mental disorder. Basically, not sleeping can exacerbate any mental condition, making it significantly worse in people who have trouble sleeping as opposed to those that don’t. Continue reading Dear Therapist: I Know You Can’t Help Me Unless I Sleep

Surprising Sleep Habits of the Rich and Famous

Surprising Sleep Habits of the Rich and Famous

Do you sleep like Nikola Tesla or Barack Obama?

Ever wonder how some of world’s most incredible people got their beauty sleep? Well, wonder no more. We’ve found the coolest infographic that breaks down the surprising sleep habits of the rich and famous. Turns out Leonardo Da Vinci utilized a crazy polyphasic sleep cycle, while Richard Branson prefers a fixated block of solid snooze time. Continue reading Surprising Sleep Habits of the Rich and Famous