The Cure for Depression: Zzzzzzz

Good morning, everyone! I’ve been meaning to talk to you all about ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT topics ever besides food and sex, but I kept sitting down to do so at incriminating times -like, midnight or four a.m.ish.

Yeah, I oughta be asleep then.

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Now that I’ve pushed hypocrisy under the rug by typing at my local time of 8 a.m., let’s get into it!

Sleep is important.

Duh, right? Well, so is eating the right food, but I still picked up a full container of chocolate almonds at Costco yesterday. So is positive self-talk and such with CBT, but I forgot all that when my kids had a meltdown this whole summer. So is talking to my counselor and doing what she says and -no, wait! I did go back on my medication because the kids have been having a meltdown all summer.

Point is: we know sleep is important. However, if you’re like me, then a good sleep schedule is one of the first things to go right out the window as soon as you have a small sip of it.

Let’s remember why we need sleep:

  1. Better Mental Health
    Isn’t this our goal? My internet reading says that mental illness sufferers almost always do not get enough sleep. I think that’s often because our stupid problems don’t let us sleep; for me, however, I intentionally do not because I’m self-defeating that way.
    Sleep is CRUCIAL to better mental health, resetting emotions and releasing the happier hormones into our systems.
  2. Learning.
    Our brains HAVE TO hit all the key sleep stages in order to retain information. You know, all that REM/NREM stuff where dreams can happen. There are a ton of articles out there about this, if you want to do a little side research.
  3. Physical Health.
    After a good night’s rest, our muscles are relaxed and ready for a new day. Skin looks better, especially around the eyes. Joints, ligaments, and nerves have time to repair. Without the stress of maintaining activity, the body as a whole can work on healing.
  4. Longer Life
    No joke: consistently cutting back on sleep affects DNA. This bad practice physically shortens one’s life. Don’t get paranoid; decide to get a better schedule.
  5. Creativity
    Despite your tortured artist soul’s ideas to the contrary, good sleep produces more creativity. I am a regular practicer of late-night muse-calling; I often produce dark poetry detailing horrific, depressive mindsets.
    In terms of consistent artistry, though, I am much more productive when I’m regularly rested.
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  6. Lower Stress
    Yeah, you should know this one. Well-rested is the opposite of high-strung.
  7. Other Crap You May Not Have Known About
    Like, lower testosterone (meaning you’re not going to feel like sex so much), weight control, disease immunity, and focus.

Like water and breathable air, humans have to have sleep. The next question, then, is how do we go about sleeping?

  1. Make a sleeping place
    Yep, like a bed. Maybe you’re literally more comfortable in a recliner, though. Wherever you do your business, make it only for sleeping and sexing. Make it comfortable, dark, and free from distractions.
  2. Make a sleeping time
    Ideally (in a fiction novel), you’d get to bed around 10 p.m. every night of your life. I find that aiming for a reasonable time gets me close to it, plus trains my body to expect that.
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  3. Have a relaxing routine
    Once your time’s set, prepare for it about an hour in advance. We’re talking: showering if you do it before bed, reading a book or your phone on the couch, reconnecting with your loved one(s), getting a drink, bathrooming, etc.
    DO NOT EAT an hour before bed. If you are positively famished, I’d recommend light foods at least two hours before, for metabolism and heartburn reasons.
  4. Stay in bed, but don’t stress yourself
    Occasionally when I wake in the middle of the night, I toss about and decide I’d be more productive getting up. Then I’m a zombie all day. Instead, I’ll choose to make myself more comfortable by repeating my relaxing routine and possibly adjusting the house/bed temperature. Then, I’ll go back to bed and just rest.
  5. Sleep aids and medications
    I’m not going to pretend some people don’t need medicine to rest. The elephant’s in the room (and now, in the bed), right? If you’ve tried a bunch of stuff listed above and have serious trouble sleeping, get your doctor on board to prescribe something to help.
  6. Cut out the crappy stuff like smoking, drinking, recreational drugging and caffeinating
    Tricky, of course, but so so so so so so so helpful for your body in so so so so so so many ways -especially sleep.
    If you gotta do it, keep booze and coffee to healthy times: alcohol in small amounts after an earlier dinner and caffeine in the morning after food.

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The other side of excellent sleep habits is your waking ones. Early to bed and early to rise isn’t just a great poem; it’s a blueprint for most people and a healthy lifestyle.

After a good night’s rest, a consistent, early waking time is equally vital.

In my crash-course study on this topic over the past few days, I learned that waking at the same time each morning trains your body. Our smart little brains start increasing key protein levels (PER) just before the anticipated wakeup. Some people don’t even need an alarm clock because their body has been set.

You, too, can be a living alarm clock.

Resolve today to make sleep a higher priority. Make your bedroom cozy, cut out stimulants of all varieties in the evening, wake early, be consistent, but -most of all- RELAX!

Sleep feels great; get some and you’ll see.

Thank you for joining me on Consider not Depressing. Tune in next time, when I remember what #11 was on my list of cures for depression.

unsplash-logoMaeghan Smulders
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unsplash-logoKristina Flour
unsplash-logoKinga Cichewicz

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29 Replies to “The Cure for Depression: Zzzzzzz”

  1. So informative. I often underestimate all the benefits sleep can bring to me. I have to take sleep aids to go to sleep or else, I will be open eyed at 4am. However, between the time when I actually go to sleep, I’m fidgety and often pick up my phone. Ugh! So bad for me! Need to cut the bad habit and just relax myself mentally without all the distractions. Great post! 😊🙏🏽

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Ugh! I know, I’ve tried to get off them, but on those nights, I don’t get an ounce of sleep. So, my psychiatrist suggest I stay on them. With chronic pain and little ones, I need all the sleep I can get. 😊

        Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a scary post for me; I never get enough sleep. I can’t get my baby to fall asleep any earlier than 9:30 or even 10, then I tell myself I need “downtime” for sanity – which probably has the opposite effect since I end up staying up until midnight. I hear drinking 17 cups of coffee is good for you though…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Baby years are the worst for sleep! My first child slept through the night starting fairly young, but only for a maximum of six hours -so, like you said, after he was down and I had my time and cleaned the house and connected with my husband, there wasn’t much left.
      I recommend trying to “down time” for only about half an hour, and napping if you can (always less than an hour’s nap, though, and not close to bedtime).

      Liked by 3 people

    2. I’ll be there for some time! Though my little ones will sleep late, around 10ish BUT wake up later! 🙌🏽 If there’s ever a positive, there’s that 😊🙏🏽

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That is a positive for sure! Our first daughter had the worst of both world’s – went to bed late (if ever) then up early :(. We’re very thankful that our second daughter is letting us sleep in a little bit 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 I’m glad I’m not the only one who was (oddly) drooling over the sleep pictures. There was one of a girl on a lush forest floor I wanted to use, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this post. I’m not a mom but still sleep-deprived because of high level of stress and anxiety.

    If that’s not damaging enough itself, in recent times, this ” be productive 24*7″ phenomenon tries to make us feel guilty, if we enjoy our sleep or do it for more than 4 hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m totally guilty of pushing that mentality on my husband because I feel it. He’s always been an “early to bed” person, even in high school -and thereby not staying up late to finish homework or whatnot.
      Guess which of us gets sick less and is happier? :/
      ….of course, if I subscribe entirely to his way of life, no one will wash the clothes. We both need to balance a bit better. 🙂

      Like

  4. I loved reading this! I’ve been struggling with sleep issues for a few weeks now. My issue is I go to be around 10 and wake up about 530 and I’m still so exhausted and my muscles are in so much pain it’s hard for me to get going and my eyes don’t want to wake up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, man. That sucks!
      Sounds like you need to: make sure you do something aerobic during the day, go to bed a bit later, and possibly look into how comfortable your bed and sleeping area are.
      If basics like that don’t help, talk to a doctor.

      Liked by 1 person

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