Sleep better with simple techniques

Sleep better with simple techniques

Most of us know that sleep is important. It can be good to know though that all kinds of negative feelings get worse when you don´t get enough sleep.

Here are some tips about what you can do when you have problems.

– May be you have heard that children sleep better when they have routines. Try the same strategy and create a routine about your bed rituals.

– If you have a hard time letting go of things that have happended at work, book a time in the afternoon before you go from work and write down everything that´s worrying you.  After that, write down a plan about how you can solve the problems.

– If you have worry  thoughts and they show up when you are about to go to bed try to book worry time the next day. Think “I can think about all the catastrophic thoughts between 12.00 and 12.30 tomorrow.

– Try not to do work in your bedroom. Condtion your bedroom with sleeping.

– Avoid smoking, alcohol, and coffee a few hours before you go to bed.

– Avoid eating right before you go to bed.

– Try a mindfulness exercize before you go to sleep. Listen to a mindfulness tape och listen to some relaxing music.

– Try to think about what you are grateful about before you go to sleep. Research has shown that thinking about nice things in life can influence your sleep and dreams in a positive way.

– if you wake up in the middle of the night, get up after a while and drink a cup of hot milk, and go back to bed. Avoid being awake for too long in your bed. Instead, get up do something else and go back to bed.

Cognitive Behavior Psychologist Monica Emanell


The brain and mindfulness

The brain and mindfulness

Mindfulness has grown more and more in the world of therapy. Doing mindfulness in a regular basis will make you become more aware of what happens here and now and you will be able to be in the present more. If you watch a child, you will notice that he/she turns a simple leaf and observes it from different angles. All of us have the capacity of being mindful but we train it away by trying to be effective. In the modern world everything has to go fast and we want to do several things at the same time. We become so goal oriented so that we miss things that happen here and now and we often miss what we are feeling since we think that we don´t have time for feelings, they are just in the way. The thing is that we have got feelings for a reason and one of them is to give us clues about in what direction we should act. If we repress the feelings we will run forward until we suddenly can´t go on because we feel too tired, anxious etc. At that point it´s not enough just to stop running over our feelings and needs. At that point we need to start taking care of our need for a long time in order to regain balance. You will find mindfulness a great tool in doing this.

John Arden writes in his book “Rewire your brain” what happens in the brain when you do mindfulness. The more you practice mindfulness techniques, the more you activate you parasympathetic nervous system and you get a more relaxed state of mind. So, you could say that the opposite of the fight and flight response is activated, the relaxataion response in the brain gets activated as a response to doing mindfulness.

Also when you engage in stressful behavior, a lot of energy is used to maintain muscle tension which makes you feel tired. In that way, doing mindfulness will save energy which will in the long run give you more energy.

You can start with stretching your muscles and focus on your muscles when they are stretched, just for a few minutes, then you can return to whatever you were doing.

Arden writes about seven principles of parasympathetic meditation:

1. Rhythmic breathing: Take deep and focused breaths (I usually tell my patients to put a hand on their stomach and feel that it´s moving in and out).

2. Focused attention: Focus on your breathing. This activates the prefrontal cortecx (the front part of the brain), which inhibits the overactivity of amygdala (where the feelings are) and the sympathetic system (with adrenaline, cortisol etc.).

3. Quiet environment: If you try to practice this in a quiet environment, it will help you to avoid distractions.

4. Accepting a nonjudgmental attitude. Try to comment on things without judging that it´s bad or good.

5. Relaxed posture.

6. Observation. Try to be aware of things in your envorinment and describe them to yourself when you observe them.

7. Labeling: Labeling things in an accepting manner will ativate your left frontal lobe (your experiences activate that part and its positive emotions).

Cognitive Behaviour Psychologist Monica Emanell

The brain, the body and stress

Good stress and bad stress

Our body is made for being able to cope with stress that lasts for a limited time. It is not made for stress that lasts for a long time.

When stress lasts for a long time you get scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack, the cells in hippocamus (a part in your brain where you remember things), get damaged which makes you forget things. The more symtoms you get, the more helpless you will feel. The psyche wants control so the sense of helplessness is anxiety provoking and often leads to different destructive behaviors.

People react in different ways when they feel helpless. Some people get depressed and can´t get out of bed while others get impulses to act on  behaviors that lead to satisfaction in the short run but are destructive in the long run.

Things you should do when you feel out of control and helpless

When we feel negative feelings like anxiety, hopelssness etc, it is common that we get urges to do things that we feel are helpful here and now; like drinking eating  yelling at someone etc. The problem is that these behaviors have the opposite effect in the long run, you often feel more helpless than you felt in the beginning.

Example: You feel devastated because your partner is having angry outbursts at you pretty often and you never know in advance when they wll come- You try harder and harder to please him or her but it does not seem to help.

Answer: If the above desribed situation has been going on for some time it is important that you change strategy. Do not continue to do what feeels best that moment, that is to please and run over your own needs. I know that this is hard but try to think about what happens to  three year old children that don´t get limits; they often turn into small Hitlers; well, I think it is the same thing with adults. I think the the psyche feels good when there is structure, it does not like when the limits are floating around.

A good technique is to validate the feeling but to stop the behavior. “I can see that you feel angry and that is ok, but these insults are unacceptable and I will not tolerate them.

If you are “only” emotionally dependent on the insulting partner, this technique will often work. If you financially or in other ways dependent on your partner, try to sit down and see what alternative ways you have to get out of the dependency or put a limit to how long te dependency will last. The psyche can endure to feel anxiety but it wants to know for how long the bad feeling will last. If is sees and end it can easier endure the pain.