Get Enough Sleep: Prioritize Rest and Recovery Time: Podcast Ep. 5:5

Welcome to Season 5, Episode 5, which accompanies Chapter 5, Section 5, “Prioritize Rest.” In this episode, I attempt to convince you that resting is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health. That’s why I’m so glad you’re here listening to this episode. In it, I’ll share 

😴 why people need sleep, 

🛌 how to get a good night’s sleep

🧘🏾‍♂️ how to include some downtime into your day

Get Enough Sleep, Prioritize Rest and Relaxation

During sleep, the body recovers from the day. It cleans and restores all of your systems to maximize your potential for the next day, especially your brain. Therefore when you don’t get adequate sleep, it compromises so many areas of your body, causing many negative consequences in your life. Unfortunately, sleep and rest is the first thing to forgo when stressed out. 

Hopefully, this episode will convince you to regain control over your rest and sleep schedule. I share the most common barriers to people filing their sleep schedule and suggest how to fix them. 

“Susan Weed, a herbalist, says that when there is illness or disease, emotional, mental, or physical issues, whenever something’s wrong (obviously, if it’s not an emergency), do the least imposing intervention first. Rest is at the top of the list of least imposing interventions. And it’s free.” – Dr. Jodi Aman

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Transcription of the Get Enough Sleep: Prioritize Rest and Recovery Time Episode

Hey, you’re here with Dr. Jodi, and this is Season 5 of the “Anxiety, I’m So Done With You” podcast. This podcast is a teen and young adult guide to Ditching Toxic Stress and Hardwiring Your Brain for Happiness. If you’re new here, grab a copy of my book, Anxiety, I’m So Done With You! because this series is going section by section through it, going a little bit deeper, giving more examples, and telling more stories. This season follows Chapter 5, “Self-Care is the New Health Care.” This book promises to ‘hardwire your brain for happiness.’ This season I deliver on that promise. We focus on seven essential happiness-generating habits, contexts, activities, and practices for you to incorporate into your life to stay healthy, positive, and resilient to whatever life throws your way.

There’s a myth at play if you’ve been feeling bad for a long time. You might think that happy people are lucky and that you are not; that you are different. While context matters to your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, your context is only partially determined by privilege, genetic expression, and random luck. The rest is determined by you. In this season, I show you how to harness that “you percent,” decolonize your self-care, and let your highest potential shine through all of the gook in your life. 

Thank you for listening, subscribing, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. Also, come hang out with me on YouTube and TikTok @DOCTORJODI where I give you practical tips for your brain, body, and spirit. Please spread the word about this book and series because mental health problems are skyrocketing, and I need you to help me turn the tide.

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Welcome to Chapter 5, Section 5: “Get Enough Sleep: Prioritize Rest and Recovery Time”

Welcome to this episode. We are starting season five. In Season 5, we’re talking about self-care. The habits of self-care that we need to use to take care of ourselves. Happy people aren’t just lucky, they don’t just get happy, and that’s it. It’s not as if some people are happy and others are not. That’s not how it works. Happy people actually generate their own happiness. Sometimes this is well integrated. You don’t really notice what they’re doing since it is so streamlined. And they may not feel like it’s a lot of effort. 

Then some people struggle. When you have anxiety and depression, it can feel like a lot of effort to generate happiness. Then, you feel different than other people. You’re thinking that those people are happy without trying too hard, and you have to work really hard to generate happiness. It feels like the universe has decided that you don’t deserve happiness because you have to work harder for it than everybody else. It emphasizes your difference. 

Welcome to Episode 5: Prioritize Rest.

This episode should have been the first episode, the first of the whole series, really, because anxiety is the antithesis of rest, right? Anxiety has us on full alert and so our bodies need MORE rest. 

Resting is one of the most important things that we could do, so I’m so glad that you’re here listening to this episode. In it, I’ll share, 

😴 why people need sleep, 

🛌 how to get a good night’s sleep

🧘🏾‍♂️ how to include some downtime into your day

Let’s get into it. 

As I said, the episode on rest should be first, first in the season, first in all of the seasons, first in everything, because when you’ve been experiencing anxiety or if even you have a loved one with anxiety, you need rest. And exhausting. It’s so exhausting. When your body’s hyped up on adrenaline all the time, it gets tired. 

Once, I was in a car accident when my son was about three years old. He was in the back seat and his glass shattered during the car accident. We were all okay, thank goodness. I got him out of his car seat, I was holding him, and he was crying. 

When the emergency people arrived, the ambulance and the fire trucks, he had fallen asleep on my shoulder. He was out cold. I thought that’s really weird. He was so stimulated and crying only moments ago, and then, he was fast asleep. The EMTs said that happens often with toddlers; they fall asleep quickly after such intense adrenaline. So adrenaline exhausts us, so our body needs to recover from anxiety.

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Why you need rest and recovery

If you have anxiety all the time, all day, or very often, you especially need a lot of recovery time. This is why I’m glad you’re reading this episode. 

Sleep, obviously, is one of the top ways to rest the body. In fact, we spent a third of our life sleeping. A third of your whole life! There is nothing else in the world that we spend this much time doing. Sleeping is incredibly important for our overall health. You cannot deny it, and why would you? 

Dan Buettner from Blue Zones reports that people who sleep less than six hours a night are 30% less happy. So if you sleep more than six hours a night, which is not even the recommended amount, but if you sleep more than six hours, you are 30% happier. And I don’t have the stats for if you sleep 7 or 8 hours. But I do know that 75% of adults sleep less than seven hours a night. 75% of adults sleep less than seven hours a night, and teens sleep even less. Teens need more sleep but sleep fewer hours than adults on average. 

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Get Enough Sleep: Prioritize Rest and Recovery Time

Susan Weed, a herbalist, says that when there is an illness or disease, so that could be emotional, mental, or physical issues, whenever something’s wrong (obviously if it’s not an emergency), do the least imposing intervention first. When you have symptoms and think, “I want to help this,” the first thing is to do the least imposing intervention. Rest is at the top of the list of least imposing interventions. It is the least imposing intervention. 

The most imposing intervention would be like brain surgery, right? You’re extremely disrupting your tissues, and it’s traumatizing for the body. Sometimes you need that. However, when there are issues, the first thing you want to do, if it’s not an emergency, is rest. Get more rest. 

I can’t even emphasize enough how vital rest is. Yet, unfortunately, that’s the thing that we sacrifice first when we’re busy. It’s okay occasionally, but it’s not okay when done consistently.

Sleep is restorative to your systems. When you sleep, your body doesn’t just shut down and do nothing. It cleans and restores the body’s systems. You know that fluid in the brain? It’s called cerebrospinal fluid. It gets thick like honey if you don’t sleep. Every night, your body cleans out that fluid. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can imagine what happens. The cerebrospinal fluid transports your thoughts, or the “synapses,” to help you think and put the necessary hormones into your body. Therefore, without enough sleep, you lack concentration. The mind gets dull. It takes more work to make decisions and problem-solve. You lose things. 

Also, you get sick when you don’t sleep because your immune system is compromised. You react slower, have more accidents, have more appetite, and eat more to recover some of that energy. Quite often, you’re also irritable. 

Listen to Prioritize Rest on YouTube

That’s what happens when that spinal fluid is not cleaned out each night with sleep. Many of you know what I’m talking about because you’ve experienced these things. There may be days you don’t sleep enough, and you have those problems. You’re not optimizing your potential those days. And it’s okay once in a while. Everything’s okay once in a while. 

However, when you consistently sleep too few hours, then you’re going to have more and more consequences of that. It works against you and causes depression and anxiety. That’s the first thing. Sometimes if it’s just that day, yes, it’s hard to concentrate. Over time, it affects your mental health. 

The first thing recommended to anybody experiencing trouble sleeping is to design a helpful sleep routine. Primarily to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. With only that change (going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning), your mental health improves. It decreases your anxiety and depression. 

Again, this is a minor intervention. It’s not medicine. You’re not changing the chemicals in your body, and it’s free. It’s the least imposing intervention because it’s right there, and our bodies know how to do it.

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Insomnia and Trouble Sleeping

Next, let’s talk about if you have trouble sleeping. One important thing to know is that if you’re struggling to sleep, it could be that you are not tired. Have you ever been trying to go to sleep early but have trouble? You’re not going to sleep; you’re sitting in bed awake and thinking about all these negative thoughts. 

Well, what is happening is your adrenaline is kicking off. When you’re thinking negative thoughts or any time you’re bothered, the adrenaline releases, and that’ll keep you awake. You wouldn’t want to fall asleep if you were in danger! You’d like to be awake to help yourself survive. Adrenaline wakes you up. 

Again, when you can’t sleep and are worried, “Oh my gosh, I’m not going to have a good day tomorrow! I’m not getting to sleep! It’s going to be awful!” That is going to wake you up. When you can’t sleep, try not to let yourself worry about it. Trust your body. That way, you’ll be calmer, which will aid you in falling asleep.

The times when you are still stinking negative thoughts, you might have to get p and do something else to distract yourself so that you can be calm enough for sleep. Either purposely think about something, read, or do something else to get your mind on something besides the negative thoughts.

The sweet spot to fall asleep

Apps like the Rest app. or Calm app. have sleep stories. They’re on Spotify as well. They’re about 20-minute audios of someone telling a story and they’re slow, and they’re repetitive in order to bore you. (Boredom makes people sleepy!)

The story should be interesting enough to distract you from negative thinking but boring enough to help you fall asleep. That is the sweet spot of anything you want to do to help yourself fall asleep. You want it to be interesting enough to distract your mind from the anxiety. Depending on how high the anxiety is, is how engaging it has to be. Engaging enough to take your mind off the anxiety and boring enough to allow you to sleep.

In summary,If you want help sleeping, stick to a routine, a relatively consistent bedtime and a relatively consistent wake-up time will enhance overall wellness. You’ll do whatever you want anyway, but maybe this episode will spark you to think about prioritizing sleep in your life. 

Many people tell me they have trouble falling asleep at night, and when I learn how much they sleep, I end up hearing that they do sleep eight hours. They’re just going to bed late, and then they end up sleeping late into the morning. They’re frustrated because they want to go to bed earlier, but when they do, they sit in bed for a couple of hours. Then, once they fall asleep, they’re sleeping eight hours. So when they try to go to sleep earlier the next night, their body doesn’t need it yet. 

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When Negative Thinking Takes Over

Consequently, they’re sitting in bed for hours that next night and the same thing happens again. Unfortunately, sitting in bed for hours when you have a propensity for negative thoughts is the worst thing you can do. Instead, it would be best if you went to bed tired. That means that when you’re trying to change your sleep routine to, going to bed earlier is not the course of action. 

Instead, plan to wake up earlier for a couple of days. It would be best if you were sleep deprived in order to change your bedtime to earlier. This is the biggest mistake people make in their bedtime routine. They try to go to bed earlier, but when they can’t, they sleep in because they need sleep. And the next night, the same thing happens, and they think they have insomnia. They don’t have insomnia. They’re just on a different sleep schedule, but they’re trying to change it by going to bed earlier instead of waking up earlier. Changing your sleep schedule by waking up early will take a couple of days for you to adjust to, just like if you have jet lag. 

All too often people who struggle with anxiety and depression isolate themselves. If they have a switched bedtime (sleeping during the day and being awake at night), it is not good. That enhances isolation and is more problematic. Change your sleeping to at night, please, as soon as possible!

Napping and Screen Affects on Sleep

If you sleep during the day and you’re like, “Well, I want to sleep at night now,” and you try to go to bed at night, but you just woke up at five and you’re trying to go to bed at 10 pm, it’s not going to work. You’ve only been up five hours. Your body is ready to stay up all night again. You need to start waking up earlier in the day. And then and only then can you go to bed early at night. 

Also, try not to nap. If you’re trying to improve your sleep routine, try not to nap because you’ll have trouble sleeping at night. People don’t even realize. They lament, “I can’t sleep; I’m there for hours,” but they’ve napped! 

Napping is not always a problem, but if you’re struggling to fall asleep, don’t nap. If you love naps and they work for you, and you take a speed nap, and you’re recovered and sleeping at night okay, it’s fine. I 100% love the nap for you. Keep it. 

But if you’re struggling to fall asleep at night, nix the naps. Also, nix the screens around your bed. I know. I just said that you could listen to a story or you could read, but if you’re struggling, this is one challenge that you could make for yourself, to not have your phone in your bed. 

Scrolling on social media keeps people awake and keeps negativity in your head. The longer they spend on screens, the more anxiety and depression teenagers have (and probably adults have). It harms all of us. 

Blue Light and Red Light

The blue light emitted by the screens decreases melatonin production because blue light is middle-of-the-day light. When you’re looking at your screens, your brain is getting the signal, don’t send out melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone to help you sleep. Your brain’s like, “Don’t put out the melatonin because it’s the middle of the day.” 

Alternately, red light is morning and evening light. You know how photographers take pictures in that dusk time where there’s that perfect light (the golden hour) when the sun is low and it’s just really great light? That’s the red light. Red light signals the body that it is almost time to rest. That’s red light versus blue light. One tip also, and I put some more in the book, but one other tip is to keep your bedroom cooled down. If it’s between 60 and 68°F, it’s good for stimulating melatonin.

Here are a couple more resources for you

Many of these tips I got from Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life: How to Harness the Power of Clock Genes to Lose Weight, Optimize Your Workout, and Finally Get a Good Night’s Sleep by Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar. 

Also, I have a breathing video that may help you too. In it, you inhale for five, hold for five, exhale for five, and take two regular breaths. There’s a visual guide to help you practice. That is a great way to calm your nervous system down. When you are in danger, you breathe into your upper chest. Your body is attempting to get oxygen to your large muscle groups quickly to survive. 

When you breathe low into your body and very deep and slow, you communicate to your brain that you’re okay. That’s why breathing is so often a remedy for anxiety because it instigates your parasympathetic nervous system, telling it that you’re okay, releasing the GABA hormone, and putting the brakes on the adrenaline. 

The last resource is my video, “How To Clear Your Mind at Night.” In it, I explain how to think about something benign, like taking a tour of a room from memory, your best friend’s house, or your grandparent’s house. Think about the last show you watched and watch it again in your head in sequence, if you can. Or you can plan a birthday party or even design something in your mind. Again, the sweet spot is engaging enough to distract yourself from the anxiety but boring enough to help you fall asleep.

You need downtime, integration time, and restoration time.

Your body needs more rest than sleeping. Everybody needs downtime. You need downtime, integration time, and restoration time. So let’s think about what those three are. Downtime is when you can let go of control. It is a respite from making decisions and taking care of other people. That’s downtime. You might do something for yourself, like take a bath, swim, walk, or sit on the couch reading. 

Integration is the time to process an event or experience. It is if something happens or you need to process it. You can discuss it with a friend. You might think, discern, evaluate, or access. It is time and space to make meaning around what happened to you. Integration time can be rest time because to do it, you are taking a break from your routine. In many ways, it can be similar to downtime. It’s time for your body to do what it needs to do. You don’t have to make it do something, but rather allow your body and brain to recover how it needs to. 

Restoration is a recovery time from something intense. For example, empathic people may get worn out in social situations and need some time to restore themselves and recoup their energy.

Burnout Recovery 

When you have anxiety, leaving yourself space is hard because you’re worried that anxiety will take that space. An idle mind is a place for anxiety to come on in and come on in strong. So what do you do? You need to rest, but you don’t want to be idle. Conscious rest is not idleness. You rarely get bored with conscious rest because you’re doing something to restore, feed, and fuel yourself. 

The truth about the Netflix binge

It could be reading, and maybe it is even a Netflix binge. If you’re consciously choosing a Netflix binge to recover, let your mind go, or not have to work very hard to rest, then it’s productive time. If you’re doing a Netflix binge because you’re avoiding doing some work or you just don’t have the energy to get your day going or procrastinate, it’s not restful. You’re resting but not getting the benefits from that rest because you’re judging yourself. You’ll feel lazy, bad, and overwhelmed by what you still have to do. The same activity, a Netflix binge, can be productive or harmful, depending on your intentions. It’s destructive, mainly because you’re going to judge yourself negatively. That’s the most considerable harm we inflict on ourselves anyway. However, when you plan, you allow for this rest and downtime; there should be no guilt. 

No judgment. 

Many people feel guilty about their bodies needing rest. Not helpful. If you feel guilty about resting when your body asks for it, you’re not restoring yourself. Alternately some people are procrastinating and can’t get themselves up and going, and then they judge themself and stay immobile instead of saying, Hey, I don’t want this; I want to do something else.

Thank you for reading

Remember, guilt is an invitation. It’s not an invitation to be immobilized; it’s an invitation to take action if you want to take action. For example, in times when you have nothing to do, like when you are on break, it’s easy not to have a plan and then feel horrible about a day in bed, watching videos and doing nothing. You may regret that you wasted that day, which is not helpful. It makes you feel bad about yourself and often less motivated to pivot to being productive later in the day. But if you intentionally had planned to relax until 2 pm doing nothing because you are on break, then, when you are done, you are in a better head-space to enjoy what you have to do in the afternoon because you will feel replenished and good about yourself.

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thank you for listening, commenting, and leaving me five stars on Apple Podcasts. That is so helpful. I can’t even tell you enough how useful it is to get this podcast into the ears of more people who need it. In this episode, we talked about why people need sleep, how to get a good night’s sleep, and how to include downtime into your day. Thank you for listening to this podcast, Anxiety, I’m So Done With You! with me, Dr. Jodi. We’re getting ready for Episode 6: Prioritize a Higher Purpose. Until then, read that section of the book and come on and hang out with me on YouTube and TikTok at Doctor Jodi

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