Did You Know... March 10 - 16 is National Sleep Awareness Week
Monday, March 11, 2019
Posted by: Karen Hardin
On average, one-third of American adults and high school students report consistently sleeping two hours less than the CDC’s recommended hours for sleep each night (7-8 hours for adults and 10 for school-aged children and adolescents). This is problematic as continual sleep deprivation contributes to a host of physical and mental health problems including obesity, heart disease, metabolic diseases, a diminished immune system, inability to regulate emotions, depression, anxiety, and increased negative moods (Barnes & Drake, 2015; O’Leary, Bylsma, & Rottenberg, 2017). In addition to these serious health issues, a lack of sleep leads to reduced decision-making abilities, increased likelihood to be in a car accident, decreased reaction time, disengagement at work, and increased likelihood to engage in unethical behavior. Sleeping only five hours per night for four consecutive nights creates cognitive and physical impairment equivalent to a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .06 (nearly the legal driving limit).
Lack of sleep is a problem for both clients and therapists alike. If clients are unable to sleep, their mental health symptoms may increase or be accompanied by other poor health outcomes. Additionally, if the therapist is not well rested, their performance as a therapist decreases, harming the potential outcomes of treatment.
National Sleep Week is March 10 – 16. This week provides an opportunity to reflect on your own sleeping habits to identify areas of improvement for therapists and clients. Falling asleep, staying asleep, and overall sleep quality can be improved by proper sleep hygiene.
The following suggestions can help improve sleep hygiene:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I): in severe cases where insomnia is comorbid with depression, CBT-I can help increase a client’s quality of sleep which may decrease symptoms of depression (Gee et al., 2018).
- Listen to relaxing music: recent studies show that listening to relaxing music for about 30 minutes each night before bed can help decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. Music should be turned off before officially laying down to fall asleep. (Jesperson, Koenig, Jennum, & Vuust, 2015).
- Decrease social media use: teens who use social media more throughout the day as well as at night tend to have a harder time falling asleep. This is also relates to increased depression and anxiety symptoms. (Woods & Scott, 2016).
- Practice mindfulness: engaging in mindfulness activities regularly before bed can help relax the mind and decrease the time it takes to fall asleep (Innes et al., 2016).
- Improve your sleep environment: studies show that setting the room temperature between 60 – 67 degrees Fahrenheit, using blackout curtains, and dimming the lights at least thirty minutes before bedtime are linked with increased sleep time and quality (NSF, 2019).
- Stick to a consistent schedule: maintaining a consistent bed time can lead to an increased 1.1 hours of sleep per night (NSF, 2019).
- Barnes, C. & Drake, C. (2015). Prioritizing sleep health: Public health policy recommendations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(6), 733-737.
- Gee, B., Orchard, F., Clarke, E., Joy, A., Clarke, T., & Reynolds, S. (2018). The effect of non-pharmacological sleep interventions on depression symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Sleep medicine reviews.
- Innes, K. E., Selfe, T. K., Khalsa, D. S., & Kandati, S. (2016). Effects of meditation versus music listening on perceived stress, mood, sleep, and quality of life in adults with early memory loss: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 52(4), 1277-1298.
- Jespersen, K. V., Koenig, J., Jennum, P., & Vuust, P. (2015). Music for insomnia in adults. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (8).
- National Sleep Foundation. (2019). White paper: How much sleep do adults need? Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/professionals/whitepapers-and-position-statements/white-paper-how-much-sleep-do-adults-need
- O’Leary, K., Bylsma, L. M., & Rottenberg, J. (2017). Why might poor sleep quality lead to depression? A role for emotion regulation. Cognition and Emotion, 31(8), 1698-1706.
- Woods, H. C., & Scott, H. (2016). # Sleepyteens: Social media use in adolescence is associated with poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Journal of adolescence, 51, 41-49.