It’s the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when daylight length and sun angle relative to the horizon shrink to their lowest levels of the year, and the darkness of night descends in the late afternoon hours. And with that comes the mental doldrums of winter Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Individuals vulnerable to seasonal effects may experience anxiety, sadness, sleep problems, loss of focus, mental fog, weight gain and loss of energy or drive. Suicidal thinking is always a factor to consider when significant depression sets in. Body image can take a hit as there may be a
The COVID-19 crisis has created misery, suffering and hardship on a global scale. If there is any silver lining, it might be the renewed appreciation of our fundamental linkage with the physical environment and what that means not just for survival, but for resilience as a species. I write on sleep topics and human behavior and emphasize our basic, culturally universal homeostatic and circadian rhythms linked to the solar day/night.
My prior blog discussed the insidious but solvable problem of chronic sleep loss. Now we look at how to establish a rapport with our sleep nature. First, we need to examine our attitude about sleep. Are we guided by prevailing Western cultural signals that sleep is down, unproductive time? Do we fret over losing our advantage or position? Our material, consumptive society bombards us with messages to excel in school, establish a profession, find that perfect employment, toil longer hours, or seek new horizons or challenges. Constant performance pressure and dodging threats activate the fight, flight or freeze responses and
Insomnia is one of the most common health problems that mental health professionals hear about from their patients. In MHConcierge’s experience, many patients are taking, or considering, melatonin. Their PCP may have recommended it, or they may have just decided to try it on their own. “Read This If You Take Melatonin to Sleep at Night” was posted by HuffingtonPost.com recently, and this consumer-friendly article is a concise summary of the benefits of melatonin (limited) and potential concerns (several potential nuisance problems, and possibly significant drug interaction concerns).
“7 Things a Sleep Scientist Wants You to Know About Getting Better Sleep was posted by Happify.com. First, a word about this site – the title always has struck MHConcierge as a bit corny, but the site provides quality, evidenced-based information and resources to help people be feel better, function better – and to be happier. This article is a brief summary of the current science of good sleep. It includes info about the concept of “sleep pressure” – physiological changes that build up between episodes of sleep that create a craving for sleep.