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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Need Better Sleep?  Think Positive.

Posted by Julia Higginson on Jan 19, 2018 4:23:00 AM

   Is positivity one of your New Year’s resolution? You might want to pay attention to the newest research which found people who get low quantity and poor quality sleep, tend to be negative people.

  Think about it; you are usually at your crankiest when you have had inadequate or low quality sleep. The reason being: Scientist have found that sleep deprivation can cause you to be less able to shift their attention away from distressing stimuli. That means negative thoughts might stick with you for longer and stronger throughout the day when compared to individuals who are well rested.

  The findings were published in Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. The report suggests that lack of sleep really can make us have feelings of sadness or negativity.

 

The Science

  The answer to why negative thoughts abound in the sleep deprived individual is simple. Your brain needs sleep to function.

  When you don’t sleep, your brain becomes stressed and unable to cope with emotions as well. The occasional negative thought can be seen as perfectly normal behavior. Problems arise when your occasional negative thought turns repetitive. You may be at an increased risk for mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, if you are constantly or even compulsively lingering on thoughts that are distressing and negative.

  *The first culprit is lack of sleep. There are many different factors that can lead to not clocking in enough hours of sleep, including: hectic work schedule, social life, school, and family.

 

  *The second culprit is not getting quality sleep. Poor sleep can be associated with bad sleep hygiene (think surfing on your smart phone right before bed or when you should be sleeping), repetitive wakings from caring for infants, or from a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. Frequent sleep disturbances or lack of sleep can make it more difficult to stop your mind from focusing on any negative stimuli, whether it be stress or a reaction to the people and events in your life.

   Think back on how you feel after a good night’s sleep. Quality sleep allows your brain the time to solidify your memories and what you’ve learned during the day. Sleep also allows your brain the time to remove waste products from your brain cells so you can think and not feel foggy the next day.

   Poor sleep or lack of sleep can impair the parts of your brain that control cognitive abilities and behavior. Medical science shows us that an individual who is sleep deprived will show reduced metabolism and blood flow to multiple areas of the brain. That means your brain isn’t getting the essential reboot it needs every night to help you function at your best level.

   These reductions in metabolism and blood flow have also been linked to difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, lack of concentration, problem paying attention, short attention span, irritability, lack of impulse control, mood swings, depression, learning difficulties, and risky behavior. No wonder you might have difficulty getting past negative thoughts.

 

The Solution

  The best solution for negative thoughts linked to sleep issues is to get more rest.  More rest might seem like a simple solution but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. The first step in solving your negativity issue is to evaluate why you may be sleep deprived or suffering from poor sleep.

   Look at your schedule and see if you can cut out activities that are interfering with sleep. Make sure you place a priority on getting at least eight hours of quality sleep a night.

   Some barriers like waking up with a child can’t be eliminated. The best solution in these cases is to make sure to take time to rest.  Poor sleep should be evaluated by your doctor or a specialized sleep physician. Treatment for sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea, can help you to achieve a good night’s rest.

   Ruminating thoughts can create a vicious cycle of negative thinking and sleep deprivation. Thinking about negative and stressful things before bedtime really does keep you up at night. The more you dwell on negative ideas and thought, the harder it becomes to fall and stay asleep. So how do you get break the cycle of sleep influenced negativity?

   If you suspect you have anxiety and/or depression you need to enlist the help of a mental health professional so you can spend more time sleeping and less time worrying.

   You might need to head to bed earlier so you have enough time to sleep. An earlier schedule is warranted if you aren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep each night or you tend to keep late hours.

   The best way to create an earlier bedtime is to gradually shift the time you go to sleep by 15 minutes each night until you reach your goal. Try gradually moving your bedtime up in 15 to 30 minute increments to create a schedule that allows you to get enough sleep.

  Alaska Sleep Clinic's Dr. Angela Randazzo is a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with expertise in sleep disorders. Dr. Randazzo suggests planning a period of wind down time in a chair with dim lighting – engaging in something low key like reading, coloring or doing a jigsaw puzzle.  "This will allow your mind to relax and get your mind off of negative issues," explains Dr. Angela. "This will unmask the sleepiness that has accumulated across the day and give you the opportunity to see when you are truly sleepy."

   Also, be consistent with your bedtime and routine each night so you aren’t sending your body mixed messages about when you should be asleep.

 

 

Tips to calm negative thoughts:

 

  1. Prioritize your sleep by ensuring at least 8 hours a night
  2. Create a room that invites rest
  3. Practice good sleep hygiene
  4. Engage in calming activities such as bubble baths, light walking, or yoga

  Dr. Randazzo also suggests, "Go to bed when feeling sleepy, not based on what the clock says.  Many people create difficulty in falling asleep because they are trying to force sleep at a time that is not in sync with their internal clock."

  Another idea to try is to think about what you are grateful for instead of what wrong with your day. A grateful attitude lends itself to peace, which in turn can lead to a better night’s sleep.

  If you are worried about how sleep is affecting your thought, please call the Alaska Sleep Clinic today for a phone consultation.

 

Topics: get better sleep, behavioral psychology, angela randazzo, bedtime resistance, sleeping, sleep habits

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