“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.”— Irish proverb
In this series, we will be reviewing the “Treatments That Work” workbook, “Overcoming Depression.” The intention will be to highlight key skills that can be helpful in easing the difficulties experienced from depression. As a recap, BEAST is the mnemonic used to not only give a picture of the burden of depression but also give a framework of how to conquer it. BEAST stands for Body, Emotion, Action, Situation, and Thoughts.
The BEAST series starts by examining the body first. This may have been a coincidence, but addressing the issues in our body is the first step in battling depression. We will start the Body discussion with SLEEP. Sleep is very important. Changes in sleep patterns are main indicators of depression, and changing sleep patterns can be a treatment for depression. Some people with depression either notice an increase in sleep, a decrease in sleep, or a decrease in the quality of sleep. Keeping track of your sleep regularly can be beneficial in helping you recognize when changes occur. Fitness monitors can now track both the duration and quality of your sleep. In addition to tracking, being proactive about getting better sleep is also key. We call this establishing better “sleep hygiene.” The goal of sleep hygiene is to develop practices that promote good quality of sleep and full alertness the following day. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following for good sleep hygiene:
– Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
– Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
– Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.- If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
– Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.- Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
– Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
– Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
– Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
– Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.- Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.- Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
– Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.
The goal is to go through the list and work on the elements that are not part of your current routine. Pursuing good sleep hygiene does not simply mean that you sleep more, but that you sleep better. You will be amazed at how sticking to a routine that promotes good sleep can improve your mood and combat existing depression.
The skills in this blog post were adapted from:
Gilson, M., & Freeman, A. (2009). Overcoming Depression: A Cognitive Therapy Approach Therapist Guide. Oxford University Press, USA. Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?id=biqG28mZFYIC
Healthy Sleep Habits and Good Sleep Hygiene. (n.d.). American Academy of Sleep Medicine. http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits