The meaning of space: Sleep and functional well-being
There are numerous leaflets and strategies on sleep that I have come across on my journey to become a counsellor/psychotherapist, and what I have come to realise is that one important aspect in the assessment of our distress is a capacity to identify the source of difficulty, in relation to everything else that we represent.
That being said, counselling and/or psychotherapy is one such point of contact for guidance and relational help.
5 steps to building a healthy sleep schedule
I have designed the five steps to nurturing a healthy sleep schedule, to help you explore and relate to your sleeping environment; the five S's could be simply conceptualised as a visualisation technique.
1. S stands for space
Like with anything, every person would have a designated space to rest. That is to say that nighttime would involve a routine, and for that to happen in connection to sleep, one would first need to identify that space.
If you do have trouble sleeping and/or difficulties getting to sleep, the first thing you should do differently is to recognise and reassign your space and setting for sleep. And to reassign does not necessarily imply you need to change your sleep environment, but perhaps rethink it and try and see it as new.
2. S stands for schedule
Acknowledging and assigning a specific time as part of your routine for sleep is one other important aspect of a healthy sleep schedule. There are times in our lives when certain actions and or basic needs become increasingly challenging.
When our sleep pattern is changing, quality of sleep and its duration are some of the factors that give us an indication of such changes. Allocating a specific time and scheduling a set time for sleep (e.g. 9 pm switch off electronics, 10 pm means bedtime) would enable you to actively intervene in your sleep pattern and modify it to your assessed needs.
3. S stands for slowing down
After the first two aspects of your sleep schedule are identified and agreed, slowing down as part of this routine is your next step every night. Slowing down means that you are synchronising your body and mind and prepare yourself for your night sleep.
There are several ways of achieving this and it depends on your own meaning of “slowing down". Generally, slowing down is an attribution to actions and/or a state of mind before your scheduled time with sleep. It could be that you decide to read a book or go out for a night walk. It's a preparatory step where you detach from daily preoccupations and commence your new sleep pattern to a chosen schedule.
4. S stands for senses
As you are in your chosen sleep environment at your scheduled sleep time after slowing down, your next step is to channel your mind on your senses:
- Sensation: your sleep environment becomes a place where your body is immersing, leaving behind daily tensions, with your breathing adjusting to calmness in your body.
- Sight: eyes closed, bringing images to mind that are aligned to the calmness of your body, memories of happy times or creating new places in corners of your mind associated with sleep.
- Sound: peaceful sounds depending on your selected images.
- Smell: what is it like to be there?
- Taste: what place is imagined and what association/s could be made? Is it being at an imagined seaside, tasting the saltiness of a soft breeze?
5. S stands for save-as
This final step is adding an element to the previous four steps and, if necessary, a repetition of step 4. With all in mind, a sense of safety is added, where a feeling of embracing and welcoming your new sleep routine is acknowledged as a planned and vital part of who you are.
In this sense, sleep and a healthy sleep routine are reconstructed as an essential part of you - its importance is reconsidered and not treated as a challenge, but as a re-attribution of your meanings. During this final step, you are ascertaining to yourself your new sleep routine with perseverance and consistency.
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