Terri K. Lankford, LPCS
Holistic Health: The Benefits of Sleep
When you hear the word “holistic”, what do you picture? Chances are, you may be thinking of acupuncture, herbs, and Eastern medicine. For society in general, “holistic” has been equated to “not medication.” However, the term holistic means much more than that, and it isn’t incompatible with medication, either!
At its core, holistic means addressing the whole person. Holistic healthcare goes beyond addressing a single symptom with a single solution. For example, if a client comes to us, a holistic mental health practice, with anxiety, we may be thinking:
Does this person have stable income, housing, and food source(s)?
Is this person drinking enough water per day, and eating 3 meals per day with a variety of nutrients?
What messages from family, friends, and society is this person receiving that sparks a sense of danger (anxiety)?
Does this person have a spiritual practice they’d like to incorporate?
As you can see, holistic approaches go beyond playing anxiety whack-a-mole - just chasing anxiety symptoms as they appear. Holistic means considering all elements of wellness in their life, and honoring how their areas and levels of wellness intersect.
In this installment of our holistic health series, we’ll be talking about something we all do but hardly talk about: sleep! Keep reading to learn how sleep impacts our physical and mental health, plus some tips to get better sleep.
The Impacts of Sleep on Physical Health:
Sleep is crucial for physical health and well-being. During sleep, the body works to repair and rejuvenate various systems, such as the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can have negative effects on these systems, increasing the risk for a range of health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Lack of sleep can also impair cognitive function, making it harder to focus and concentrate, and increasing the risk of accidents and injuries. As you can see, getting enough quality sleep is essential for maintaining good physical health!
The Impacts of Sleep on Mental Health:
Sleep is essential for good mental health. During sleep, the brain processes and consolidates memories, and the body works to regulate mood and emotions. Sleep deprivation can have negative effects on mental health, increasing the risk of mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and impairing cognitive function, including memory and decision-making. Lack of sleep can also contribute to the development of other mental health problems, such as psychosis and bipolar disorder. Getting enough quality sleep is essential for maintaining good mental health and well-being.
How to Get Better Sleep:
Here are some of our best tips on getting better sleep:
Stick to a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine that includes activities such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet. Consider using earplugs, an eye mask, or blackout curtains if necessary.
Limit exposure to screens and bright lights in the hours leading up to bedtime, as they can interfere with the body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime, as they can interfere with sleep quality.
Exercise regularly, but try to finish your workout at least a few hours before bedtime to give your body time to wind down.
Avoid large meals and beverages close to bedtime, as they can cause discomfort and interfere with sleep quality.
Consider trying relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery to help you fall asleep.
We hope this blog post helped inform you about holistic health, and just one element of it: addressing sleep! If you want more holistic help, look no further than Rise and Thrive Counseling. Our holistic counselors can help address all areas of life - including sleep. Reach out today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!