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Depression and Sleep
Sleep can be influenced by depression. Symptoms of depression include: low mood, low energy, decreased ability to experience happiness, decreased motivation and self critical thoughts. People who are depressed tend to need sleep during the day and often take long naps. Even without naps, depression can lead to sleep onset insomnia (difficulty falling asleep when a person first gets into bed) and early awakening. Early awakening is when a person wakes up 2 to 3 hours before their desired time and can lead to daytime sleepiness, low energy and irritability. Lack of sleep can make many of the symptoms of depression worse.
It is important to see your physician if you think you have symptoms of depression in order to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. Natural treatments to assist with symptoms depression including daily aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes and supplementation (purified fish oil of 2 grams to 4 grams per day
Seasonal Depression (SAD) and Light Boxes
With SAD, people experience similar sleep problems as with depression. These sleep problems and mood problems may not arise until one to three months into the low light months (in November or December). Occasionally, post-holiday stress triggers SAD symptoms in January. Both mood and sleep problems can be alleviated if people have the opportunity to vacation in a sunny location. If not, you can treat SAD by using a light box (10,000 lux) fist thing in the morning for 30 to45 minutes to regulate moods and to ease problems associated with sleep interruption. You should also attempt to read, eat or do other tasks near the light box first thing in the morning. If you are a night owl, you can use the light box in the morning to try and shift your sleep onset to an earlier time.
Anxiety, Stress and Sleep
If you find yourself worrying about things, dwelling on uncomfortable thoughts, having nightmares or experiencing heart palpitations, chances are, you are suffering from anxiety and stress. Anxiety and stress contribute heavily to sleep problems.
If you find it difficult to unwind before you go to sleep, try recordings your thoughts in a journal. If reading helps you relax and fall asleep, try reading under a low light in bed. Aerobic exercise and stress management techniques such as yoga and meditation can also assist with symptoms of stress and anxiety. If you are not coping well with stress in your life, you are not alone. Visit your health care practitioner for some advice and counselling.
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