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Sleep Hygiene-Dr. Christopher Mathe, PhD.

What is Sleep Hygiene?
‘Sleep hygiene’ is the term used to describe good sleep habits.
Considerable research has gone into developing a set of
guidelines and tips which are designed to enhance good
sleeping, and there is much evidence to suggest that these
strategies can provide long-term solutions to sleep difficulties.
There are many medications which are used to treat insomnia,
but these tend to be only effective in the short-term. Ongoing
use of sleeping pills may lead to dependence and interfere
with developing good sleep habits independent of medication,
thereby prolonging sleep difficulties. Talk to your health
professional about what is right for you, but we recommend
good sleep hygiene as an important part of treating insomnia,
either with other strategies such as medication or cognitive
therapy or alone.
Sleep Hygiene Tips
1) Get regular. One of the best ways to train your body to
sleep well is to go to bed and get up at more or less the
same time every day, even on weekends and days off! This
regular rhythm will make you feel better and will give your
body something to work from.
2) Sleep when sleepy. Only try to sleep when you actually
feel tired or sleepy, rather than spending too much time
awake in bed.
3) Get up & try again. If you haven’t been able to get to
sleep after about 20 minutes or more, get up and do
something calming or boring until you feel sleepy, then
return to bed and try again. Sit quietly on the couch with
the lights off (bright light will tell your brain that it is time
to wake up), or read something boring like the phone
book. Avoid doing anything that is too stimulating or
interesting, as this will wake you up even more.
4) Avoid caffeine & nicotine. It is best to avoid consuming
any caffeine (in coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate, and
some medications) or nicotine (cigarettes) for at least 4-6
hours before going to bed. These substances act as
stimulants and interfere with the ability to fall asleep
5) Avoid alcohol. It is also best to avoid
alcohol for at least 4-6 hours before going to
bed. Many people believe that alcohol is
relaxing and helps them to get to sleep at
first, but it actually interrupts the quality of
sleep.
6) Bed is for sleeping. Try not to use your bed
for anything other than sleeping and sex, so that your body
comes to associate bed with sleep. If you use bed as a
place to watch TV, eat, read, work on your laptop, pay
bills, and other things, your body will not learn this
connection.
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7) No naps. It is best to avoid taking naps
during the day, to make sure that you
are tired at bedtime. If you can’t make it
through the day without a nap, make
sure it is for less than an hour and
before 3pm.
8) Sleep rituals. You can develop your own rituals of things to
remind your body that it is time to sleep – some people find
it useful to do relaxing stretches or breathing exercises for
15 minutes before bed each night, or sit calmly with a cup of
caffeine-free tea.
9) Bathtime. Having a hot bath 1-2 hours before bedtime can
be useful, as it will raise your body temperature, causing you
to feel sleepy as your body temperature drops again.
Research shows that sleepiness is associated with a drop in
body temperature.
10) No clock-watching. Many people who struggle with sleep
tend to watch the clock too much. Frequently checking the
clock during the night can wake you up (especially if you turn
on the light to read the time) and reinforces negative
thoughts such as “Oh no, look how late it is, I’ll never get to
sleep” or “it’s so early, I have only slept for 5 hours, this is
terrible.”
11) Use a sleep diary. This worksheet can be a useful way of
making sure you have the right facts about your sleep, rather
than making assumptions. Because a diary involves watching
the clock (see point 10) it is a good idea to only use it for
two weeks to get an idea of what is going and then
perhaps two months down the track to see how you
are progressing.
12) Exercise. Regular exercise is a good idea to
help with good sleep, but try not to do strenuous
exercise in the 4 hours before bedtime. Morning
walks are a great way to start the day feeling refreshed!
13) Eat right. A healthy, balanced diet will help you to sleep
well, but timing is important. Some people find that a very
empty stomach at bedtime is distracting, so it can be useful
to have a light snack, but a heavy meal soon before bed can
also interrupt sleep. Some people recommend a warm glass
of milk, which contains tryptophan, which acts as a natural
sleep inducer.
14) The right space. It is very important that your bed and
bedroom are quiet and comfortable for sleeping. A cooler
room with enough blankets to stay warm is best, and make
sure you have curtains or an eyemask to block out early
morning light and earplugs if there is noise outside your
room.
15) Keep daytime routine the same. Even if you have a bad
night sleep and are tired it is important that you try to keep
your daytime activities the same as you had planned. That is,
don’t avoid activities because you feel tired. This can
reinforce the insomnia.

 

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Thoughts On Change

Quotes and reflections by Chris Mathe, PhD

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~ Henri Bergson

Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. ~ James A. Baldwin

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.

~ Anatole France

A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.

~ Katharine Butler Hathaway

You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are continually flowing in.

~ Heraclitus

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. ~ Charles DuBois

We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.

~ Anais Nin

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~ Mohandas Gandhi

Change is a continuous process of widening our perspectives and allowing more possibilities into our lives. Yes, it’s inevitable and everything is constantly changing, but we can choose to ride this wave with wonder and abundance or with fear and grasping. The choices we make determine how much joy and pain we feel in the process.

~ Chris Mathe

General Information on Anxiety Disorders

By Chris Mathe, PhD

Everyone feels anxious at times. Anxiety in fact is a normal and helpful part of life. It alerts us, helps us organize ourselves, mobilize our resources and take action. For example, a person interviewing for a job who feels no anxiety may not prepare adequately or the student without any anxiety may not study enough.

Anxiety only becomes a problem when it overwhelms us – and has the opposite effect. Then it puts us in a chronic state of arousal or hyper-arousal which causes us to be disorganized, immobilized and unable to take action.

If you are struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders affect 38 million Americans. 10% of Americans every year have a panic attack out of blue. Some signs that anxiety has become overwhelming are:

  • You feel anxious or tense much of the time.
  • You feel anxious when no danger is present.
  • The anxiety interferes with your daily life.
  • You take extreme steps to avoid situations because of your anxiety.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Learn as much as your can – educate yourself.
  • Seek the support of trusted family member or friend.
  • Keep a positive attitude, knowing anxiety is very treatable and many persons have learned to manage similar anxieties.
  • Contact a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. Dont’ feel embarrassed about asking for help.
  • If you have developed other problems secondary to the anxiety disclose them and discuss these concerns too. For example, if you’ve become depressed or have had thoughts of giving up or started to drink or abuse drugs.
  • Join a support group to share tips and strategies and inspiration.

It is important that you realize that admitting you have a problem with anxiety is a sign of strength, not weakness. It is the same concept as seeking medical help for other illnesses is a sign of good judgment and following a healthy lifestyle and diet is a sign of self esteem and self respect.

It is not helpful for loved ones or doctors to say “It’s just nerves,” “Relax,” or “Have a drink and mellow out.”

Family and friends need to be supportive (and certainly never tease the person), but also not overlook or ignore the anxiety or encourage the person to avoid situations because of it.

 

Thoughts on Gratitude

Thoughts on Gratitude

Quotes and Reflections by Chris Mathe, PhD

Our eyes are opened to that surprise character of the world around us the moment we wake up from taking things for granted. For example, a rainbow always comes as a surprise. Gratuitousness bursts in on us, the gratuitousness for all there is. When this happens, our spontaneous response is surprise. It is also the beginning of gratefulness… Do we find it difficult to imagine that gratefulness could ever become our basic attitude toward life? In moments of surprise we catch at least as glimpse of the joy to which gratefulness opens the door. What counts on our path to fulfillment is that we remember the great truth that moments of surprise want to teach us: everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is the measure of our gratefulness. And gratefulness is the measure of our aliveness.

~ Brother David Steindl-Rast

Gratitude focuses our attention on the good things in life. It takes our blessings and multiplies them. When we joyfully express appreciation, it opens our hearts and allows us to experience more love.

~ Daniel T. Peralta

Gratitude is our heart-filled thankfulness in action. It is a living expression of our connectedness with everything around us. All that happens in our lives can be viewed through the eyes of abundance and deepening wisdom. Continuously acknowledging our thanks with compassionate attention and mindful action is the essence of a fulfilled life. ~ Chris Mathe, PhD

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~ Melody Beattie

There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy. ~ Ralph H. Blum

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. ~ David O. McKay

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

~ William Arthur Ward

Our indebtedness is not virtue; our repayment is. Virtue begins when we dedicate ourselves actively to the job of gratitude. ~ Ruth Benedict

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