Sleep research shows that we have two types of sleep - slow wave sleep or deep sleep that repairs the cells in our bodies, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. We need at least 4 hours of deep sleep a night to maintain physical health. REM sleep is mostly when we dream and the right amount keeps us emotionally healthy.
Dreaming discharges the emotions that we have not acted on from the previous day, and as we dream our emotions are restored to their normal levels. But if we are stressed and worrying we need more intense sleep to deal with the increased level of emotional arousal. REM sleep requires more energy, so dreaming more than usual means we can wake up feeling tired and lacking in motivation, which leads to more worry and stress. It is important to find ways to change this unhelpful cycle so normal sleep can be restored.
Ways to get better sleep:
- Learn and practice relaxation exercises
- Work on getting your emotional and physical needs met in the day so you have less to worry about
- Go to bed and get up at regular times
- Have a room that is dark - use blackout curtains or a blanket so that the light does not wake you early
- Avoid caffeine in the second half of the day
- Avoid watching TV or using the internet for 2 hours before going to bed. Avoid using a smart phone in the bedroom.
- Make the bedroom a good calm place for sleep - no TV, games consoles, computers.
- Don't lie awake for more than 20 mins without being asleep - get up and do something simple for 20 mins then go back to bed.