In recent days I have become aware of the importance of sleep, and why during lockdown many people unwittingly are putting themselves at risk of succumbing to depression through not having a consistent bedtime routine.
Sleep plays an important part in recovering from trauma and our amazing bodies have all the necessary strategies in place to successfully destress painful trauma whilst we sleep.
The last year has left most of us without an established routine or structure in our day and during the winter months it has become too easy to watch television into the early hours and then stay in bed until lunch time and beyond. With no work to get up for, along with dark mornings plus the warmth of the bed, being disciplined to get up is a challenge. It is obvious when I am taking Dougall, my dog, for his morning walk, around 10am, how many bedroom curtains remain closed and many of my own family and friends are sharing how they were still watching box sets at 2am in the morning and then staying in bed until lunch time the following day.
It is so easy to disturb our circadian rhythm which is needed to maintain the various physiological activities that take place whilst we sleep and if the process is disturbed the body will experience internal trauma, eventually resulting in health issues.
Layla didn’t wake up until 3pm on the day of her birthday!
She hadn’t been drinking the night before which you could think was the reason. No, she had just gone through a traumatic experience and the stress and worry prevented her from falling asleep. Her sleep hours diminished to no more than five hours. With a young daughter to take to school she had to be up in the morning. But with home schooling and her husband working at home there was no urgency to climb out of bed. The signs of all the sleep deprivation have started to show with acne, weight gain, migraines and depression.
Other contributing factors to depression
Seasonal affective disorder commonly known as SAD. This relates to changes in seasons and the reduction of light. The production of both melatonin the hormone associated with sleep and serotonin that directly affects mood appetite and sleep. The body uses sunlight to time various functions, including the time you wake up so diminished light exposure during the winter can disrupt your body clock and lead to symptoms of SAD.
You are therefore more at risk of depression if you deprive yourself of natural daylight by spending too many daylight hours.
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe and include
Desire to spend time alone
Needing more sleep
If you suspect that you are suffering from severe depression consult your G.P. or health care practitioner.
Light therapy/ phototherapy used to mimic sunlight
Establishing a sleep routine by going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning
Refrain from napping in the day
Eat a healthy nutritious diet
Commit to a daily exercise activity
Spend time outdoors.
Some suggestions are more appealing than others, however for me the most important practice is to get up each day at the same time and spend time outside in natural day light.
Whilst the weather is not always accommodating for walking and being in nature, according to my friend there is no such thing as bad weather it is just bad clothing!!!!
Come rain or shine dog walking twice a day in all weathers has been my anecdote to depression and low mood.
Whilst you may not have to meet the needs of a dog by spending time in nature, you can make a commitment to daily invest time outside in natural daylight. Why??? Because as the advert says “YOU ARE WORTH IT”
If you want to discover more about ways you can improve both your physical and mental health, please visit my website at Letitgo.me.uk