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On sleep and functional well-being - the meaning of space

What does it mean to be functional?

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 of 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.

I have designed the five steps to nurturing a healthy sleep schedule and help you explore and relate to your near 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/sleep. That is to say, that night time 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, the first thing you should do differently is to recognise and reassign your space/setting for sleep. Reassign does not necessarily imply changing your sleep environment, but re-think it and try and see it as anew.

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 simple needs are becoming increasingly challenging. When our sleep pattern is changing, quality of sleep and in its duration are some of the factors that give us an indication of such changes. Allocating a specific time and scheduling a “meeting” with time for sleep 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 that and that all depends on your own meaning of “slowing down”. Slowing down is an attribution to actions and or state of mind before your scheduled “meeting” with sleep, it could be that you decide to read a book or go out for a night walk. It is 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? An imagined seaside tasting the saltiness of a soft breeze?

5. S stands for save as

This final step is adding a last element to previous four steps and, if necessary, it involves a repetition of step 4. With all in mind, a sense of safety is added to step 4, where a feeling of embracing and welcoming your new sleep routine is acknowledged as a planned 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 meanings, your meanings. During this final step, you are ascertaining to yourself your new sleep routine with perseverance and consistency.

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Written by Madalina Andreia I Day PGCert BA (Hons) MBACP (Reg)

My work is guided by my training, qualifications and practice in a variety of settings with different client groups. Most encountered difficulties are anxiety and anxiety disorders - and it can safely be said that it is what I am most knowledgeable about in terms of practiced experience.
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Written by Madalina Andreia I Day PGCert BA (Hons) MBACP (Reg)

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