Emotional Balance: Sleep


In my psychology practice, I deal with many different topics and issues from personal growth to major personality disorders. My clients cover a broad spectrum of cognitive and emotional maturity and they belong to a multiracial and multi-socio-economical background thus demanding a wide array of therapeutic goals. However, regardless of these disparities, I have learnt over the years to always include in my intake interview three basic tenets of emotional balance: sleep, eat, and exercise.

Today, I will write about sleeping. This is a large topic that cannot be covered in one short post. So I will start with the number of hours we are supposed to need. Most adults need between 7 ½ and 8 ½ hours of sleep. Most adults actually sleep between 6 and 7 hours a night. Children, teenagers and older adults need more than 8 hours of sleep daily. Many people do not have their sleeping quota daily and many people develop emotional and behavioral issues due to this lack of sleep.

Several reasons interfere with our sleeping needs: our environment, our mental stress, and our biological cycles. Environmental issues include noises such sharp sounds and white noises, alarms, television, music, etc. It also includes lack of privacy or comfort, lights, smells, pains, heavy digestion, etc. Mental stress creates the overstimulation of the brain, anxieties, nightmares, and as a result the fear of sleeping. Finally, our sleeping needs get impacted when our sleeping cycle is not respected.

Our sleeping cycle or circadian rhythm is our internal clock based on the full cycle of the day of 24 hours which corresponds to the rotation of the earth. It is not related to the day light as many of us believe and use as a rationalization to our own personal sleeping pattern. Early morning raisers and night owls follow different circadian rhythms. When individual’ rhythms are not respected, sleeping needs get disturbed. It is important to recognize our personal pattern and to respect it.

Lack of sleep needs to be addressed diligently. It affects our moods and induces depression and anxiety, our work efficiency, our motivation, focus, and our memory. It also affects our health: stress related pains and disease. These include digestive issues, skin issues, lower back and neck/shoulder tightness, asthma, migraines, and cancer, just to name a few. Listen to your body, reduce the “must do” and give your overall health a chance to work in your favor. Sleeping is one of your most significant ally.