JOURNEY TO WHOLENESS - November 2018
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
By Jude LaClaire, Ph.D.
In Macbeth, Shakespeare says, “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care…balm of hurt minds…chief nourisher in life’s feast.” Sleep can be restorative, healthy and life giving. But what happens when our Circadian Cycle (24 hour) is disturbed? Or when the Ultradian Cycle (90-120 minute) is interrupted or dysfunctional?
Many researchers tells us that as many as one third of the United States population suffers from different sleep disturbances. Many of the people I see report sleep problems and may also be suffering from depression and anxiety. It is important to look at the multiple possible causes and effects of sleep interruption.
Let’s look at some of the symptoms you may be having if you are having poor, unrestful or insufficient sleep; yawning, moodiness, fatigue, irritability, depressed mood, difficulty learning new concepts, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, lack of motivation, clumsiness, increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings, reduced sex drive, poor impulse control, or less empathy.
Certainly other things may cause some of these symptoms but it is always good to check out your sleep patterns. Maybe you have trouble falling asleep or wake up and cannot get back to sleep. Some people report sleeping but still waking up fatigued and unrested. Some people just don’t get enough sleep.
The sleep recommendation for infants is 14-17 hours, toddlers to school age 10-13 hours, elementary school age 9-11 hours, teens 8-10 hours, adults 7-9 hours and older adults 7-8 hours. Of course there are always individual variations.
Henry Nichol, an author and journalist, wrote Sleepyhead: The Neuroscience of a Good Night’s Rest. In his New York Times article, “End the Lessons in Sleep Deprivation,” cites the brain differences in elementary age children and teens. The younger brain wants to wake early and go to sleep earlier. The teen brain wants to wake later and go to sleep later. School hours are later for younger children and earlier for high school students, just the opposite of brain functioning. He strongly suggests changing school hours to fit children and teen’s neurological clocks.
He also makes the point that excessive screen use “is particularly problematic for sleep.” He continues, “Not only does it eat into the time available for rest, but the blue light emitted by LEDs, TVs, tablets and smartphones suppresses the body’s secretion of melatonin, the hormone that signals it’s time to sleep. Parents can help their children get restful and sufficient sleep by limiting screen time, especially before bedtime.
Other major causes of sleep disruption are sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, trauma, poor time management, REM sleep disorders, prescription drugs, substance abuse, and depression. If might be a combination of things for some people.
Sleep deprivation can cause high blood pressure, risk of diabetes, threat to cardiovascular health, increased obesity, DNA disruption which can lower our immunity and disrupt gene activity, aging skin, increased risk of stroke and multiple mental health issues.
I hope this bad news will convince you to think seriously about getting better sleep. Here are some ways to help you with that determination: Declutter your house, block light and noise, embrace short naps, eat more fiber, learn some Cognitive Behavioral Approaches to assist you (e.g., relaxation, stress and trauma reducing exercises, imagery, and positive reframes of negative thinking), drink less caffeine, exercise frequently and early in the day, fix relationship issues, and get a better mattress!
Find the causes of your sleep deprivation. Find the remedies that help you. Get help along the way. Find practitioners who use integrative approaches. Don’t forget how helpful homeopathy, acupuncture, reflexology, and other forms of bodywork can be. Check your nutrition plan. Make a good self-care checklist. Taking better care of yourself helps any problem. And as Shakespeare tells us, you may ‘Sleep, perchance to dream.” And wake up refreshed and ready to meet the morning!
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Jude LaClaire, Ph.D., LCPC, is a counselor, educator and author. For counseling appointments, seminars, training, speaking engagements or information on Neurobehavioral Programs or Imago Couple therapy call 913-322-5622. For more information about Jude LaClaire or the Kansas City Holistic Centre go to