12 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Covid-19 Support Series #2

I hope you are well and safe during this Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a scary time. We can’t always control the things that happen around us or to us, but we can control how we react to them. How we manage our sleep impacts our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being and our relationships.

Today I’m going to share information about sleep hygiene.

Insomnia contributes to physical disease, a compromised immune system, accidents and mental illness. It also damages our relationships because we have less emotional resiliency.

Stress and anxiety can disrupt sleep. It may be harder to get to sleep, or more difficult to sleep through the night.

Please answer these questions:
1. When you wake up during the night, can you get back to sleep within 10 minutes?
2. Do you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed?

If your answer is “no”, do as many of these activities as you can.

1. Aim for 7½ to 8 hours of sleep every night … even when you don’t have a regular work schedule. Maintain your schedule on weekends. When we don’t get consistent sleep, it’s like being jet-lagged. Those who sleep less than six hours are especially susceptible to infections. Many people who don’t think that they need 7.5 – 8 hours of sleep are success-oriented individuals who are in denial about the need for enough sleep. Inadequate sleep lowers your immune system.

2. Be mindful. Observe your thinking and behavior. Accidents of all kinds occur more frequently when we don’t get enough sleep and we’re stressed. We’re prone to make decisions in split-seconds instead of taking time to ponder wise choices. Have any of these events ever happened to you?

You ran your body into a piece of furniture and caused a deep bruise. You weren’t aware of your body in relation to the environment, and you didn’t see the piece of furniture.

You fell down the stairs when you were carrying too many boxes because you wanted to leave the house quickly.

You crashed your car.

I admit it. I’ve done them. During a time of crisis, we need to prevent as many unnecessary injuries as possible.

3. Examine your most important values. Take self-care seriously. One study indicates that most airplane crashes involve sleep deprivation. Even if you are not a pilot or a person in a high-risk profession, you can’t afford to dismiss the value of good self-care during a crisis. Your choices not only impact you; they affect everyone around you. Remember what the flight attendants tell us: in the event of an emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself first. If you don’t care for yourself well, you may not be able to care for anyone else.

4. Go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. The more you wake up at the same time, the more your brain unconsciously tries to help you go to sleep at the desired time.

5. Design a wind-down routine.

  • Get in bed a ½ hour to one hour before you want to be asleep. It’s normal to need ½ hour to fall asleep. Do self-soothing practices.
  • Listen to my guided meditation: “A Journey into Wholeness.” Click here for the MP3. Click here for the CD.
  • Listen to The Ultimate Brain meditation with stereo headphones. These are soothing engineered theta wave sound patterns that move you into a state of very deep relaxation. I use it daily. It’s free on YouTube. Search for Tom Kenyon The Ultimate Brain video booster cz 720p 2212017
  • Listen to the meditation apps available for your smartphone.
  • Read a book, but only if it’s soothing and doesn’t stimulate your mind.
  • Pray.
  • Watch a calming pleasurable movie. No dramas, no violence, no politics.
  • Take a hot bath. Hot water followed by a cooling down process helps you sleep.
  • Adjust the temperature in your room to a cooler temperature.
  • 6. Create a sleep-friendly environment.
  • Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Buy room-darkening curtains if you need to.
  • Remove all sound devices unless you need white noise to sleep.
    Turn off the TV. Better yet, remove the TV from your bedroom.
  • Use a white noise machine if you need noise to help you sleep.
  • Remove electronic devices from your bedroom whenever possible.
  • The electrical current impacts your body and brain even if you don’t realize it.
  • Wear earplugs if you are particularly sensitive to noise. I like these comfortable earplugs that I buy from Walmart: Mack’s pillow soft silicone putty. Personally, I don’t like any other earplugs.
  • Don’t use your computer or smartphone one hour before bed. Get an app that turns off the blue light.

7. Consume a healthy diet.
Do not drink alcohol in the evening. Alcohol will help you become sleepy, but your blood sugar will drop while you sleep and then you will wake up in the middle of the night. Abstain from recreational drugs which weaken your immune system. If you must drink alcohol, limit it to one a day for women; two a day for men. If you are have trouble with alcohol or drugs, seek counseling.

Drink plenty of pure water. The rule of thumb is to drink half our weight in number of ounces per day. Example: if you weigh 120 pounds, you would drink 60 ounces of water each day. Dehydration can interrupt sleep.

Nix the sugar and simple carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, white pasta). These decrease your immune system and dysregulate sleep.

Eat anti-inflammatory foods: fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds and healthy fats.

Eat superfoods: Spinach, kale, red onions, capers, apples (eat the peel), berries.

Plant your own garden so you don’t need to go to the grocery store.

Eat a healthy small snack before you go to sleep. Eat a combination of proteins and complex carbohydrates to stabilize your blood sugar throughout the night. Examples: 5-10 almonds and 8 dried cherries with no added sugar. If you are a diabetic, seek your physician’s recommendations about a snack before bed.

8. Don’t do any activities in your bedroom other than sleep and make love. Your brain will unconsciously associate your bedroom with pleasure and sleep. Do all your other activities in another room.

9. Exercise at least 30 minutes every day. If evening exercise makes you too alert to go to sleep on time, exercise earlier in the day.

Soak up the sunshine for 10 minutes a day. It stimulates vitamin D and boosts your immune system.

10. Reduce or eliminate caffeine. If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t drink caffeine. Not even in the morning. One of my psychiatrist colleagues says that caffeine can stay in the body for 2 days. The caffeine in green tea impacts you, too. I realize that people vary in their sensitivity to caffeine, but if you have trouble sleeping, don’t ingest caffeine for 30 days and see what happens.

11. Resolve your relationship conflicts. When we don’t feel securely attached to our loved ones, we experience grief and loss. All our emotions have a physiological counterpart. In my experience, grief is felt in the lungs. To help prevent and heal pneumonia and other lung-related dis-eases, mend your relationships as soon as possible. If your loved ones won’t cooperate, learn how to repair the wounds yourself. Seek psychotherapy and spiritual counseling.

12. Meditate mid-day to reduce chronic anxiety or insomnia. When our sympathetic nervous system is continually in a state of hyper-arousal, it’s hard to calm down at night. We call this state “tired and wired.” Chronic anxiety is really bad for our physical and emotional health.

Research says not to take naps during the day if you have insomnia. I recommend meditation to renew your energy when you are exhausted.

Take 30 minutes somewhere between 12 noon-4:00pm to go into a deep state of relaxation to calm down and renew your energy. Don’t meditate later than 4pm or you may have too much energy, and that will interfere with your sleep.

As I mentioned before, here are some resources to get a better night’s sleep.

Listen to “A Journey into Wholeness.”   Click here for the MP3.  Click here for the CD.

I’ve been using “The Ultimate Brain” meditation every afternoon at about 3:00pm for the last 30 years. That’s how helpful it is. Soothing sounds help increase your theta brainwaves, a state of very deep relaxation. It can also help eliminate pain. It’s free on YouTube. Search for: “Tom Kenyon The Ultimate Brain video booster cz 720p 2212017”

If you really desire to get a better night’s sleep, do this:

1. Print this article.
2. Put a check mark by all the activities that you want to use.
3. Schedule them on your calendar just like you would for any other important activity.
4. Set alarms to help you maintain the schedule.
5. Post a chart of your daily actions where you will see it.
6. Ask someone to be your accountability partner.
7. Even if you don’t do all of these activities perfectly, recording your behavior will keep you focused on your goals so that you will be more successful.
8. You might want to choose two or three items and become successful with those. Then add more until you master the whole list.

We create new habits after repeating new behaviors for 60 days. Consistency is the key.

You can do this!

I love you. I bless you. I believe in you.

Warmly,

Benita A. Esposito, MA, LPC

Benita Esposito is a psychotherapist in Georgia with four decades experience.

If you would like to schedule a complimentary 10-minute phone chat to see if we are a good fit for counseling, please complete the Contact Form.

I offer “distance counseling” by Zoom videoconference. I also offer FaceTime during this Covid-19 crisis to all residents of Georgia. In non-crisis times, I see clients in my Blairsville, Georgia office.

If you live in another state, it may be possible to receive counseling from me because the federal and state guidelines have changed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please inquire on the website of your state’s professional counselor licensing board.

Please comment on this article or leave a question. Please it with your friends on social media.

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How to Get Started with Counseling FAQs

How do I make an appointment?  Complete the Contact Page and tell me a little about your situation. I’ll do my best to contact you within 48 hours.

May I have a complementary interview? Yes, I offer a 10-minute phone interview so we can determine if I am the best counselor for you. If not, I’ll do my best to make a referral.

How long does it take to get an appointment? I can usually schedule your first appointment in one week, two at the latest in most cases.

How long are your psychotherapy sessions? 53-55 minutes for individual counseling. I prefer 80 minutes for couples, but we can do 53-53 minutes if we meet weekly.

What are your hours? Monday-Thursday 10am-7pm EST. Friday 12:00-5pm. Weekends are reserved for group retreats and Private Marriage Retreats.

May I use my insurance for psychotherapy? Yes.  Click here for details. Note: To use insurance, I must assign a mental illness diagnosis, e.g., anxiety, depression, PTSD, adjustment disorder. If you do not want a mental illness diagnosis on your record, you’ll want to pay out-of-pocket.

Do you accept credit cards? Yes. I process credit and debit cards through PayPal. If PayPal charges a service fee, you will be responsible for paying it @ 2.8%. If you withdraw funds from your bank account, PayPal does not charge a service fee.

If I don’t use insurance, do you offer a reduced or sliding scale? That is a possibility. I need to know your income and life circumstances. I will discuss fees when you call me for your complementary 10-minute phone meeting.

How do you deal with religious beliefs? I honor all religious paths that do not endorse hurting people. I am a Christian, and if you are looking for counseling that incorporates the values of unconditional love, grace and mercy, you have come to the right place. I do not impose my beliefs on my clients, and I do not tell them what they should do. I follow my clients lead, and if they want to incorporate healing prayer into our sessions, I am happy to do that. I have found it to be very helpful.

More Questions? Please complete the contact form.

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The Meaning Of Work for Introverts

SuccessIf you are an introvert who wants to have a successful business, you can’t do it the way an extrovert does. I want to help you accelerate your learning curve. That’s why I’m sharing the following article written by a marketing expert for introverts. If you are not an introvert, please forward this to your friends who are introverts.

Benita Esposito’s personal challenge to launch her business, shared with Marcia Yudkin, marketing expert:

Dear Marcia,

Your article (below) on how introverts love being their own boss describes me to a T. I never wanted to work for a corporation because I dislike politics. Starting a business of my own was a huge risk. I had no idea how to do it way back in 1982. I floundered for four years, trying to figure out how to attract enough clients. I hated attending crowded networking events where everyone was making small talk. I disliked making cold calls to doctors who might become referral sources. I had to discover a marketing strategy that would work for me as an introvert.

I painfully struggled to develop the courage to do it my way, but I am so glad I stuck with it. (My theme song is “My Way” by Sinatra.)

Looking back, it has been worth every hour of labor, every minute of fear, and every sleepless night. I learned that success as a solo entrepreneur rests on good marketing. I have lots of expertise, but if enough people don’t know about my services, I won’t reach my goals. Your article reveals essential points every introverted entrepreneur should know. I wish I had read it 30 years ago. Thanks for your contributions to all us introverts. I appreciate you.

“Introverts: Labor Day Reflection”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day is “a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” I like to mark it by reflecting on the meaning of work. This in turn always makes me give fervent thanks that I work for myself.

Only 11 percent of Americans are self-employed, in part because it’s viewed as the tougher row to hoe. However, for an introvert being one’s own boss is heavenly. We get to have a buffer zone between society’s expectations and our daily reality.

No one dictates our working hours, how we decorate our office (or don’t) or the extent to which we need to socialize with colleagues we haven’t chosen and don’t like.

Our freedom puts us out of step with others at times. We don’t nod our heads in agreement when someone complains about Monday mornings or exclaims, “Thank God it’s Friday!” We can take our days off when we please, and for introverts that’s probably not when everyone else is packing the roads and filling planes. And if we adore what we do for work and dig in at 5:00 in the morning or work on a day that’s supposed to be a holiday, that doesn’t really matter in the slightest.

Of course, we still need to get along with clients, but even there we have a lot of freedom, if we choose to take it. Like me, do you hate meetings? Simply create other ways to get projects done, and attract clients who appreciate no-fuss efficiency. Do you prefer to dig in deep with one or two clients at a time instead of short, superficial gigs one after the other? When you’re in charge of your own work life you can readily bend it your way.

If you’ve been floundering on your own or obeying too many “shoulds,” join my upcoming Introverts Action Group, which helps you understand the talents and abilities that make your soul sing and shows how to attract simpatico customers by being true to yourself.

You can sign up here: http://www.yudkin.com/innies.htm

Whatever your current employment status as we mark Labor Day, I wish you joy and fulfillment!

Your marketing mentor, Marcia Yudkin, Creative Ways

PO Box 305, Goshen, MA 01032

Website: http://www.yudkin.com/introverts.htm

To sign up for Marcia’s marketing tips for introverts, click here.

~ This article was reposted with permission from the author. ~

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Podcast: Masters and Disasters of Marriage

four-horsesIn this 20-minute podcast, Benita Esposito highlights Dr. John Gottman’s 40 years of research on what makes masters and disasters of marriage.

Host: Dr. Cynthia Libert, Family Medicine and Holistic Integrative Medical Doctor. Life Wellness Radio, Blairsville, Georgia.

 

Podcast Part 1: Disasters of Marriage (click to listen on Dr. Libert’s website)

1) Harsh Start-up

2) 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Dr. John Gottman

Criticism: Attacking your partner’s personality or character, usually with the intent of making someone right and someone wrong. Examples: Generalizations: “you always…” “you never…”“you’re the type of person who …” “why are you so …”

Contempt: Attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse him or her.
• Insults and name calling: “wimp, fat, stupid, ugly, slob, lazy and worse …”  Hostile humor, sarcasm or mockery.
• Body language & tone of voice: sneering, rolling your eyes, curling your upper lip

Defensiveness: Seeing yourself as the victim, warding off a perceived attack. Making excuses: “It’s not my fault…”, “I didn’t…”
• Cross-complaining: meeting your partner’s complaint with a complaint of your own, while ignoring what your partner said.
• Disagreeing and then cross-complaining: “That’s not true, you’re the one who …” Yes-butting: start off agreeing but end up disagreeing. Repeating yourself without paying attention to what the other person is saying. Whining. “It’s not fair.”

Stonewalling: Withdrawing from the relationship as a way to avoid conflict. Partners may think they are trying to be “neutral” but stonewalling conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation, disconnection, and/or smugness. It breaks your emotional bond.
• Stony silence. Monosyllabic mutterings. Changing the subject. Removing yourself physically.

The 4 final stages of the death of a marriage.

  1. You see your marital problems as severe.
  2. Talking things over seems useless. You try to solve problems on your own.
  3. You start leading parallel lives.
  4. Loneliness sets in.   But, you can recover if you use the steps below.

Podcast Part 2  (Click to listen on Dr. Libert’s website.) describes one of the essential communication tools used by people who are masters of marriage. The masters don’t blame, they don’t accuse, and they don’t do any of the 4 horsemen. They use “I messages.”

Speaker: Non-blameful complaints about your partner’s behavior are OK.

I Message: “I feel (describe your emotion) + describe the situation that is upsetting you + make a request of your partner that will help you.

Listener: Gives his or her undivided attention, listens, paraphrases thier partner’s message. Validates their partner. Empathizes.

Listen to the entire podcast for details.  (Click to listen on Dr. Libert’s website)

If you would like counseling to improve your marriage, please contact me, Benita A. Esposito, Licensed Professional Counselor for a complementary 10-minute interview.

Phone: 770.998.6642  Atlanta and Blairsville, Georgia

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Will Your Marriage Survive?

Couple in white midageAfter four decades of research tracking 3,000 couples, Dr. John Gottman compared the communication habits of couples who stayed married with couples who divorced within 15 years. He isolated four behaviors that unhappy couples use which predict divorce with 94 percent accuracy. That may seem outlandish, but it’s backed up by solid research.

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

1. Criticism: Attacking your partner’s character with the intent of making him or her wrong. Your sentences start with “you always…” “you never…“you’re the kind of person who …”

2. Contempt: With an attitude of superiority, you attack your partner’s sense of self, intentionally insulting him or her. Words can hurt as much as physical violence. Contempt may include emotional, verbal and psychological abuse.

• You don’t feel guilty calling your partner names or cursing.

• You think that hostile humor, sarcasm or mockery is OK.

• Your body language & tone of voice may include sneering, glaring, or rolling your eyes.

3. Defensiveness: You feel like a victim, trying to protect yourself from an attack by the enemy.

• Frequent comments include: “It’s not my fault.”  “I didn’t do it.”  “If you hadn’t done X, I wouldn’t have done Y.”  “That’s not true, you’re the one who …” “It’s not fair.”

• Cross-complaining: when your partner complains, you don’t try to understand. Instead, you fire off a complaint of your own, dismissing what your partner said.

• Yes-butting: You start off by agreeing but end up disagreeing, ignoring your partner’s feelings.

• You keep repeating yourself, hoping your partner will get it this time. You don’t validate anything your partner says.

4. Stonewalling: You withdraw from the relationship because you are uncomfortable with conflict. You hope your partner will stop talking if you don’t add fuel to the fire. Although your intentions may be good, stonewalling severs the emotional connection in your relationship, and that’s never a good thing.

If you would like to learn how to repair a relationship by replacing the Four Horsemen with healthy communication, please Contact me for Marriage Counseling, Couples Counseling, Pre-marital Counseling and Dating advice. I’ll help you get it right this time.

Benita A. Esposito, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor

Phone: 770.998.6642

Flourishing Lives for S.M.A.R.T. Women and the Men Who Love Them

(Spiritual + Mature + Authentic + Responsible + Trustworthy)

Reference: The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver. Purchase the revised edition 2015.

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How to: Selecting the perfect wine

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At massa quis enim. Donec pede justo, fringilla vel, aliquet nec, vulputate eget, arcu. In enim justo, rhoncus ut, imperdiet a, venenatis vitae, justo. Nullam dictum felis eu pede mollis pretium. Integer tincidunt. Cras dapibus. Vivamus elementum semper nisi.

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Sandy Springs / Atlanta, GA Office for Benita Esposito, Licensed Professional Counselor

5885 Glenridge Drive, NE. Suite 130. Atlanta, GA 30328

Plaza 400 Office ParkOffice SS Spring2015

I share an office with six other counselors. You’ll see our names on the sign by the office door Suite 130 and on the directory list in the lobby.

EVENING APPOINTMENTS: The exterior doors may be locked after 5:30p.m. Text me to say you have arrived, and I will meet you at the door.

LANDMARKS: At the intersection of Hammond and Glenridge Drive, you’ll see Hammond Recreation Park. Turn south on Glenridge Dr. (towards I-285) and go 1/8 mile. Turn left at the sign: Plaza 400. Drive to the back of the office complex to building #5885. You’ll pass “Sweet Pea” café on the left.

Tip 1: After you finish your appointment, for easy access onto I-285, turn left onto Glenridge Drive. The entrance to I-285 is 1/4 mile down the road.

Tip 2: Arrive 10 minutes early for your first appointment so you have plenty of time to find the new location. Accessing Glenridge Drive from I-285 can be tricky if you don’t know the area. I recommend you print travel instructions from mapquest or google.

Map_Sandy Springs Office_BE

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Association for the Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP)

CREDO

LOVE OF LIFE and people is achieved through an integrated awakening of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional processes. Life itself is a religious experience as realized in the temple of my being. I am performing a religious service when my thoughts and deeds involve an affirmation of life. My congregation is both myself and those who seek my support in striving towards an integration of the whole person. To serve others, for fee or gratuity, who seek my assistance in the pursuit of this religious experience is both my commitment and my right, free from any persecution. My service is supported by the Association for the Integration of the Whole Person in agreement of principles with the Constitution of the United States. Membership in the Association for the Integration of the Whole Person will be denied or revoked if I interfere with or injure the rights of others, perform criminal acts, or practice medicine without a license. My service, whether for fee or gratuity, is limited to the areas for which I have been qualified.

Religious: “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”

Spiritual: “of religion, sacred, devotional, or ecclesiastical; not lay or temporal.”

The Association for the Integration of the Whole Person was founded so that spiritual persons, prepared to serve their communities, can do so in ways that assure the blessings of self-empowerment, psychologically and educationally, leading to peace for persons of goodwill.

 

“Choose well. Life is brief.” ~Benita A. Esposito, M.A.

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