Wikimedia.org
Source: Wikimedia.org

There is one piece of advice that I offer regularly in my office in response to a wide range of problems – get more sleep. I can’t emphasize enough how the lack of sufficient sleep often not only makes people more tired, but causes all kinds of other issues in their lives. Think about it. Is it possible that your poor or insufficient sleep is seriously affecting your health and happiness? The idea that being tired is a problem may be old news to you, but do you apply it to your life?

Below is a list of some of the ways people are impaired by lack of sleep. Read through the list slowly and consider which ones may apply to you.

  • Tired
  • Low energy
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Poor memory
  • Not optimistic
  • Not sociable
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Easily stressed
  • Easy to anger
  • Easily frustrated
  • Impulsive
  • Overeat, weight problem
  • Increased pain sensitivity
  • Compromised immune system (get sick easily and recover slowly)

Being tired is sometimes the central cause of these problems. At other times, it is aggravating a struggle that already exists and requires more than sleep to fix it. So, it’s worth considering the role sleep plays in these other areas of life. If it is related, there is no substitute for the sleep you need.

Insufficient sleep affects people of all ages and in all stages of life. For instance, new mothers often struggle with anxiety or depression precisely because their beautiful bundles of joy keep them up the better part of the night. In fact, many who come to me with postpartum depression are “cured” once they get some much-needed sleep. Similarly, I have seen lack of sleep haunt people who have overcommitted themselves so much that they have not gotten enough sleep for a long time. And for them, getting more sleep has also alleviated much anxiety, depression, and unclear thinking.

If you know that you don’t get enough sleep, don’t shrug it off as a minor inconvenience. Instead, seriously consider how it might be affecting your life. And if you can see its negative effects, imagine how much better life could be with more sleep. Then take action, such as: Make getting to bed earlier a priority, forgoing excessive napping during the day. Exercise earlier in the day and avoid caffeine later in the day. To learn more, go to reliable sources, such as the Mayo Clinic or the National Sleep Foundation. If you still have trouble getting a good night’s sleep, seek out a sleep clinic or find a therapist who has experience in helping people with this issue.

Though this advice may sound too simplistic, the cure for what ails you may simply be getting more sleep. It’s such a simple answer that many people overlook it or minimize its importance. Don’t make the same mistake. Get sleep. Feel better. Enjoy life… or at least be more ready and able to tackle life’s other obstacles.

Leslie Becker-Phelps, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice and is on the medical staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset in Somerville, NJ. She is also a regular contributor for the WebMD blog Relationships and is the relationship expert on WebMD’s Relationships and Coping Community.

New Harbinger Publications/with permission
Source: New Harbinger Publications/with permission

Dr. Becker-Phelps is also the author of Insecure in Love.

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Making Change blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional assistance.

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