Tag Archives: sleep

Use these for better sleep

Sleep is so important for your mental health, but 45 percent of Americans say lack of quality sleep regularly affects their daily activities.

A possible culprit these days, according to a recent study, is the blue light coming from the screens we all love. Blue light keeps us alert and regulates our internal clock. We get it naturally from the sun, but the light coming from our TVs, computers, and smart phones is stimulating our brains long past sunset.

The good news is there’s a simple solution. Either cut out screen time at night or start wearing special glasses for a few hours before bedtime.

In the study, participants wore blue light-blocking glasses for three hours before bedtime while continuing to use screens as usual. At the end of two weeks, their melatonin levels were up 58 percent — a huge increase. The participants fell asleep faster and slept better and longer than they had before using the glasses.

Just search “blue light blocking glasses” online and you’ll find plenty of retailers selling the product at various price points. Your newer devices may have a blue light-blocking setting that you could use for a similar effect.

If your mental health is not where you’d like it to be, come see me. We’ll talk about sleep and other lifestyle changes you can make to start feeling better.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

 

Poor sleep? It could be affecting your negative thoughts

Ever heard of cognitive reappraisal? It’s where you take a negative thought or experience and recast it in a positive light. (Failed a test? At first maybe you dwell on your shortcomings, but then you “reappraise” and think of it as a chance to see where you can improve.)

A new study shows people with sleep problems have a harder time doing that than do their well-rested counterparts.

All participants in the study had a depression and/or anxiety disorder, which already puts them at a disadvantage for seeing the positive side of things. Researchers wanted to see if lack of sleep made that worse.

First, the scientists gave participants sleep trackers. After measuring how well they slept for six nights, they hooked the subjects up to an MRI and watched brain activity while the participants completed an emotional regulation task: They had to look at disturbing images and reappraise them in a more positive light. (For example, a subject might look at a picture of a battered woman and imagine her as a model wearing make-up instead of as a victim of violence.)

The region of the brain known to be involved in regulating emotions is called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (DACC), and it springs into action when you’re engaging in cognitive reappraisal.

Here’s what the scientists found: During the reappraisal task, people who had sleep problems had more activity in the DACC than did people who slept well. Researchers interpreted those findings to mean the sleep-deprived brains had to work harder to come up with a positive spin on images.

If you’re depressed or anxious, let’s talk about your sleep. If we can get you sleeping better, you could find it easier to see the world in a more positive way.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

Sleep and your mental health

Let’s talk about sleep: To put it simply, you need it. It’s so important for your mental health.

For starters, disrupted sleep is connected with suicide. A team of researchers recently investigated that link and came up with three “pathways” from sleep problems to suicidal thoughts:

  1. There are fewer mental health resources available at night, so suicidal thoughts that arise are more difficult to contain.
  2. Life gets harder when you’re tired. You’re more depressed, you’re less active, you think more negatively, and it’s harder to focus.
  3. Sleep can be an alternative to suicide — an easy escape from distressing thoughts. If you’re using it as an escape during the day, then what’s left at night?

Other studies have connected sleep and depression, too:

  • New mothers with post-partum depression have more sleep problems than their non-depressed counterparts. The worse their sleep, the worse their depression.
  • Too little or too much sleep appears to activate genes associated with depression.
  • People running on less sleep have an impaired ability to regulate their emotions — certain circuits in their brains aren’t working as well.
  • Teens who go to bed later are more likely to suffer from depression.

If you’re depressed, let’s talk about sleep. Addressing that can be part of the solution.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.