Not sleeping well can have a huge impact on our ability to function at peak performance and our general state of mind. Insomnia can enormously degrade a person’s quality of life. While medication can certainly knock a person out, this also means only treating the surface problem without taking care of the root causes of insomnia. Insomnia affects a large number of people. It can be the result of poor habits, issues which are bothering you, or even the environment you sleep in. Talking to a sleep therapist can help you to identify what is keeping you from getting valuable rest, as discussed in more detail in the articles below.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Sleep is a natural and essential state that the body goes into after a long day. It alters your state of consciousness and your senses are processed in a different way. When you’re asleep, your brain reacts to stimuli differently than it does when you’re awake. Your brain cycles through different patterns while you’re asleep. These 5 sleep cycles last approximately 90 minutes and repeat throughout the time you are sleeping. There are also two basic modes of sleep called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep and non-REM sleep. When in REM sleep, there are times when a person can go into sleep paralysis, meaning that they can’t move. Sleep paralysis can be frightening, but it doesn’t happen to everybody. It’s a feeling of being conscious but completely unable to move your body. It’s terrifying for those people who experience it. Some people talk in their sleep or sleepwalk. What people do in their sleep they may not remember, because they’re in a deeper state of consciousness.
Sleep is a time when your physical body gets a chance to heal. Your body shuts down many processes and takes inventory of what it needs to heal. Your bodies organs and systems are in an anabolic state. During this anabolic state many of your systems go through a daily overhaul. Your immune system gets restored, your muscular systems heal and strengthen, and your brain processes information that it stored away during your waking hours. Most people find that their mood is better when they’re getting adequate sleep.
Circadian rhythms are what tell the body when to be asleep and when to be awake. Everyone's circadian rhythms differ, and if you have a sleep disorder, your circadian rhythm will be off. Most adults have a dip in energy in the middle of the night between 2 am and 4 am. That's when part of your hypothalamus controls your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is not stagnant, and it tends to change as you get older. But, what is circadian rhythm? Circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle that tells you when to go to bed, when to rise, when to eat, and so on. It’s a physiological process in the body that animals, fungi, and even cyanobacteria go through.
Sleeping helps our bodies and minds. Don’t underestimate the importance of rest. You might feel like you can live on three or four hours of sleep. While you can function on that amount, you’re not thriving. It’s important to give your body a chance to rest so you can function well during the day. When you have enough rest, you’re able to think clearly and make good decisions. Healthy sleep habits are important because sleep has a regenerative property. As an adult, it’s essential to get at least 8 hours of sleep per day because your body needs that time to regenerate and heal. If you don’t get enough sleep, you may become irritable. Lack of sleep can cause or contribute to depression and other mental health issues.
If you’re having problems sleeping, it’s essential to troubleshoot and understand what’s going on. An excellent place to start is your general doctor. Explain your symptoms to your doctor. Are you restless at night? Do you have nightmares? Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Sleep is an essential part of our lives. If you aren’t sure what’s going on or why you’re having trouble sleeping, it might be helpful to talk to a mental health professional. Online therapy is a great place to start exploring sleep issues.
Don’t ignore your sleep issues. You can talk about them with a mental health professional who can help you solve them. Online therapy is an excellent resource to talk about what’s preventing you from getting good sleep. Search the network at BetterHelp to find a therapist that will help you with these issues.