Spring?

   Written by on March 16, 2017 at 9:48 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

So, what happened to spring?  Mark Twain was right when he said if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.

Last Sunday we changed the clock for daylight savings time.  Why?  The thought is daylight savings time saves energy and allows for better use of daylight.  Daylight savings time is not a new idea; officially, it was first used in 1908 in Thunder Bay, Canada.  In ancient Rome, the water clocks used different scales for different months of the year.

What are your plans for making use of the longer day?  Mulching, cleaning the gutters, trimming the bushes, planting a garden, painting the house.  The big question: does your list include sleep?

Warning: Severe lack of sleep may cause me to snap, snarl or bite your head off.  This is a funny saying written on a T-Shirt; but oh, so true.  The scientists at UC Berkeley concluded that lost sleep leads to seriously grumpy behavior.  Their study linked not getting enough sleep with selfish behavior and arguments with spouse or coworkers.  Has anyone ever asked you, “Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed?”

Harvard scientists studied the connection between rest and our decision-making ability.  They divided people into two groups.  One group got a good night’s sleep.  The second group was sleep deprived.  The scientists asked both groups to make decisions.  Can you guess the results?  Yes, the sleep deprived group’s decision-making process was greatly reduced.

Is your solution to stop at Starbucks and get a double caffeine latte?  Enjoy your latte; however, drinking caffeine did not help the sleep deprived people make good decisions.  So how do you get better sleep?

Get your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle in sync.  Melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone produced by light exposure, helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.  Have you tried varying your light exposure during the day verses the night?

Here are some ideas for daytime light exposure.  Enjoy bright sunlight in the morning.  When you first wake up, go the window, open the shades, and let the natural sunlight wake you up.  A second idea, have your coffee by a sunny window.  What do you do during your breaks?  Try going outside or sit in the sunlight during your breaks.  Have you ever noticed how well you sleep when you spend the day outside?

Exercise also helps with sleep patterns.  So why not “kill two birds with one stone”? Take a walk outside, get sunlight, and exercise at the same time.

At night just the opposite, you need to limit your exposure to light.  Where is your phone or computer at night?  Near your bed?  Tonight, look around your bedroom.  How many devices are giving off light?  At night, your room should be dark.  Ok, so you need to get up in the night and you want to be able to walk around without breaking a toe.  Install a dim nightlight in the hall or keep a small flashlight next to the bed.

You got sunlight during the day, took a nice walk, no lights in your bedroom, now what?  The next step is to wind down and clear your mind.  But how?  Step one, say no to late night TV.  Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but, what you watch is probably stimulating rather than relaxing.

So you ask, if I can’t watch TV what can I do to relax?  Have you tried deep breathing?  Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last.  Progressive muscle relaxation can help.  Starting with your toes, tense all the muscles as tightly as you can, then completely relax.  Work your way up to the top of your head.  Visualizing a peaceful, restful place can calm your mind.  With your eyes closed, imagine a calm and peaceful place.  Focus on how relaxed this place makes you feel.

It’s spring, enjoy the forsythia and a good night’s sleep.

  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

Call us with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions; our phone number is 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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