How To Improve The Quality Of Your Sleep — Dr. Wayne Phimister
Is it possible to improve our sleeping process by changing different aspects of our daily life? Dr. Wayne Phimister talks about cognitive behavioral therapy and gives us a few tips to optimize our sleep.
This time, as a result of my participation in the Pain Conference in the city of Lebanon (Oregon); I am going to talk from my past experiences and recently acquired knowledge, and go around the topic of sleep. After six hours on the road, I arrived to the Conference and met some interesting people, including a nurse practitioner called Cynthia Rodríguez, who shared a few sleep points with all of us.
Before we begin, it is important to remember that sleep is a condition of our limbic system, which is the same area where chronic pain is controlled. Therefore, sometimes sleep problems are associated with chronic pain and chronic pain is often associated with sleep problems.
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LET’S TALK ABOUT COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be highly beneficial when it comes to sleep treatments. That is why it is considered as the number one treatment for sleep problems. But why? Because it not only helps you improve your sleeping process, but also it can reduce by 80% the need of sleeping pills.
So, what is this “cognitive behavioral therapy”?
Let’s unpack a few things, which I’ll call the components of sleep.
COMPONENT #1 — Firstly, we will have to talk about COGNITION.
Cognitive things are the ones that we are constantly thinking.
The average time that takes sleep to a normal person is between 20 and 30 minutes, but do not worry if it takes longer. Maybe you are having a bad night and you are up to the washroom more, or your child is sick; or perhaps you woke up for some reason and you went quickly back to sleep. There are no major health effects because of these situations, as they are little things and you can recover your sleep in the next few days.
On the other hand, going to bed earlier it is not necessarily better for you. It doesn’t really matter at what time you go to bed, as it is the right time for you. Pills only improve your sleep in 10–15 minutes, and, at the end of the day, they are not preferred as they represent a waste of money and a cumulus of side effects. Apart from that, you get less REM sleep, which affects the quality of your sleep when you dream.
COMPONENT #2 — THE BEHAVIORAL ASPECTS
Secondly, the other component of sleep is behavioral. What should we do to optimize ourselves?
In first place, environment is crucial.
Getting a dark, cool and quiet surrounding can help.
The other thing is to avoid caffeine after 2:00 pm, and long naps as they disrupt your sleep cycle.
You should also evade nicotine in the evening and heavy meals.
Screen time can be reduced too, as IT equipment stimulate your brain and don’t help you sleep.
COMPONENT #3 — REGULAR SLEEP TIMES AND POSITIVE ASSOCIATIONS
The next big subject is to acquire regular times for you and make positive associations with our bed, which is linked to something I like to call “bed restriction”.
What is that?
Very simple, if you are awake and not sleeping, get up from the bed and do an activity. When your brain is finally calmed down, you can get back to bed and sleep.
Reducing anxiety around sleep can also help. Instead of thinking about you have to sleep, think the opposite.
In addition, you can do different quiet activities in bed like listening to soft music or reading a book; or do specific relaxation treatments such as progressive muscle relaxation, which is when you tense your muscles as you inhale and relax them as you exhale repeatedly, or quiet your mind by meditating or doing your prayers.
As you can see, there are lots of ways in which you can change your behavior around sleep in order to improve your sleeping process.
By the time you recognize which components are necessary to adjust, you will be helping yourself by creating a better environment for your mind and body to reach a healthier sleep with no side-effects.
Dr. Wayne Phimister Resources:
Dr. Wayne Phimister is a family physician and associate professor at the Department of Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Canada
VISIT: Homepage (Get in touch)
READ: Conquering Chronic Pain: Solutions and Strategies for People Who Have Given Up Hope (now available on Amazon)
LISTEN: Pain Solutions For The 21st Century with Wayne Phimister featuring experts from the the world of chronic pain treatment.