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Sleep tips from psychologist Dr Mary Flaherty

Sleep tips from psychologist Dr Mary Flaherty

Dr. Mary Flaherty shared some useful Sleep tips from her experience as a psychologist. Always great to hear useful sleep ideas from sleep focussed humans around the World. Thank you for stopping by Mary.  

Check out her book HERE

“Sleep is not an indulgence. It’s not like going from economy class to business. If you don’t sleep, you don’t fly.”

-Dr. Mary Flaherty, “Keys to a Contented Life from Science, Monks and My Mother”

While we may think our brains are at rest during sleep, think again!

Sleeping improves our ability to learn, concentrate, process information, make decisions, consolidate memories and fire creativity. A sophisticated cleaning process happens while we sleep which not only restores and refreshes our brains, but keeps Alzheimer’s disease, among other dementias, at bay.

Sleep helps restore bodily functions. It optimizes our metabolic fitness, enhances immunity and reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Suffering through one sleepless night after another can make us feel pretty rotten. But when we regularly lose sleep, we have a higher risk of physical illness and our mental health suffers, as do those around us!

How you know if you are not getting enough sleep? If you need an alarm to wake you up, if you are irritable when you get up, and if you need caffeine to function.

How to improve sleep?

Right after you wake up, go outside and get sunlight. Even if it is overcast. Exposure to natural light, especially early in the day, helps reinforce the strongest circadian cue.

Activity during the day supports your internal clock and helps make it easier to fall asleep at night. Avoid heavy exercise just before sleep. Yoga has been shown to help insomnia, but it can take up to 12 weeks of regular yoga practice to see any positive effects for insomnia.

Avoid stimulants like caffeine after lunch.

Alcohol stops us from getting into deep sleep.

Stop eating at least 3 hours before sleep.

Limit light before bed so turn off the phone a few hours before sleep.

Keep the bedroom dark and cool at night.

Be consistent. Having a regular schedule for when you wake up, when you have your first and last meal, when you dim the lights, and when you go to sleep is a powerful combo.

Set your alarm to go to bed, not to wake up.

If you wake up and can’t go back to sleep, play the alphabet game - think of vegetables or countries for each letter of the alphabet. Mentally go for a walk you are familiar with or rehearse a dance sequence you know. Do a body scan. Breathe.

How much should you sleep? Don’t listen to what you read online, listen to your body. See how you feel when you wake up ...and note the 3 questions: did you awake without the alarm? were you refreshed and alert? and did you function perfectly well without caffeine? If you answer yes to all of these, then you slept enough.

Sweet dreams!

Read more in her new book Keys to a Contented Life – From Science, Monks and My Mother” – bringing together findings from psychology, insights of monks and mystics and my mom’s wisdom. Kindle, paperback and audio book available at all Amazon stores. 20% of royalties from the book will go to Coral.Soul, a wonderful non-profit marine organization.