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  • Debbie Baisden

How Tired Are YOU?!

I talk to a lot of women, especially moms, and one thing we all agree on is how TIRED we are! We fantasize about naps, right?

Do you stay up too late?

Do you wake really early?

Do you have trouble falling asleep?

Do you struggle with staying asleep?

Are little people the reason for your mombie eyes?

Is stress the cause? Chores? TV?

I have lots of thoughts on sleep, which you can check out here:

I wanted to know more, so I turned to my friend Faye Knauss who I consider a sleep expert. Here are her thoughts on all things sleep! Meet Faye...

I did my pre- and post-doc at the Duke sleep lab so that was some time ago. I do have research and clinical experience; however, I'm not certain I would still consider myself an "expert" in sleep. As a clinical psychologist, I do feel okay saying I can speak to the topic. I am though careful to not "advise" fully out of my realm of scope. With that said, I can certainly give behavioral recommendations.

For those who present to me with physical and/or emotional/psychological/mood issues - it is critical to check sleep patterns first. I feel like so often correcting just sleep will set everything else in a positive motion.

The first thing to look at is whether people have patterns of insomnia (i.e., have problems initiating sleep, staying asleep, and/or early morning waking). There are times a need for a sleep study is indicated as we often perceive ourselves as getting less sleep than we actually do. The real key is not the "hours" of sleep per night but the "consistency" night after night (it;s important for overall sleep architecture) that we have similar patterns night after night. We get in big trouble when we get 8 hours, 4 hours, 9 hours, 3 hours, etc.

The 1st thing to do is to establish what a patient thinks is the "ideal" number of sleep per night. Lets say 7 hours. I then have them set a sleep and wake schedule (sleep at 11:00pm and wake at 6:00am). While we are getting sleep back on track - these set times need to be agreed to and not altered by more than 10 minutes daily for several weeks and/or until sleep problems are resolved.

During this period, other recommendations are given. As follows:

*No Naps (EVER)

*No caffeine after noon

*Exercise early in the day

*No physically stimulating activities in the evening

*Enough activity during day to acquire a sleep debt (we have to be over a threshold of sleep debt to both fall asleep and stay asleep)

*Relaxing activities to decompress for a reasonable period of time prior to bed (I always add in the importance of disconnecting from electronics during this time - at least phones, Facebook, etc)

*bedroom should be at a cool, nice temperature and dark

*No TV in bedroom

*Bedroom for sleep (and sex if applicable) ONLY (until sleep on track - no other activities such as reading, eating, games, anything in bed) - the key is we want to neurologically wire that bed=sleep!

This is a pain but a critical piece. During the period where sleep is an issue, absolutely NEVER stay in bed awake more than 20 minutes. This includes while falling asleep and throughout the night. For the hours from 11-6 (in previous example) one must be in bed asleep. If awake for more than 20 minutes during this time period, get out of bed and go do something super boring (like read the encyclopedia ). It is important NOT to do anything physically stimulating nor cognitively stimulating (i.e., don't watch anything interesting or engage in anything that may entice one to continue with activity). When one feels sleepy again, go back to bed and try to sleep again. Do not fall asleep outside of bed. If still awake after 20 minutes, get back out of bed and do something boring until sleepy again. This can be quite a frustrating dance but it is critical. If one keeps it up - it may take weeks, but it is proven to work!

Sleep patterns can be retrained - we just need to keep strict behavioral routines until our sleep architecture gets back on track!!!!

What would you add to the conversation on increasing zzz's? Instead of melatonin or other sleep aids, try natural magnesium oil at bedtime instead. Let's prioritize rest so that we can think clearly, feel energized, and look healthy!

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