With my mental illness, one of the early warnings of problems is changes in sleep. If I go too long without consistent sleep I’ll have problems with anxiety and irritability. If I have several days of too much sleep I’ll have issues with depression and apathy.
Since I have become aware of the importance of consistent sleep, I’ll make changes to my behavior if my sleep has been erratic for more than a few days. Recently I had been getting only five to six hours a night, and not usually all in one setting. To bring my sleep back into line, I reduced caffeine and stopped drinking water two hours before bedtime. I’ll also stop reading or using my laptop in bed for awhile.
Another useful technique to get myself back into consistent sleep is breathing exercises. I’ll just deepen and slow my breathing until I am relaxed in both my body and mind. This may take only a few minutes or it may take almost an hour, depending on how tense I am.
In the past when I was sleeping too much I would run into problems with depression and apathy. I’ve found when I am physically active and more outgoing socially, these help to reenergize me. I really haven’t had problems with too much sleep since I’ve been more active physically and socially. When I wasn’t active physically or socially I’d find myself sleeping almost twelve hours a day. I’d sleep out of depression and boredom and I’d be depressed because I slept so much. It’s a vicious cycle that has to be broken.
Too little sleep and too much sleep can cause problems with mental stability. While researchers say the idea amount of sleep is seven to eight hours, this is a guideline. It varies among individuals. The best way of treating sleep, and all problems in mental health, is knowing what works for yourself. A brilliant philosopher from ancient Greece, I believe, once said “Know yourself.” Good advice for anyone.