A collage of picture about the sleep experience and ways to improve restorative sleep and health.

Sleep is the best guide for health, longevity, and productivity.

Monitoring sleep quality can be an invaluable tool in choosing your priorities and be an early warning sign of impending difficulties.

Attention to sleep cues is essential for preserving or restoring health and vitality. Disruptive and perturbed sleep or anxiety dreams and nightmares can portend problems ahead. Dilemmas, indecisions, and conflicts are impediments to productivity and well-being. Disruptive sleep is an indicator of distress levels and a warning that critical life areas need attention. Ignoring unhealthy sleep patterns can have dire consequences now or in the future.

Sleep and dreams have warned me about unfolding precarious situations.

If I had a conversation with you, you would often recall periods of overwhelming stress unless you have had a stress-free, uneventful life. These periods are often associated with disturbed or sleepless nights, intense thinking, worrying, or dreaming. I have written of several personal life events when my alertness to the importance of my sleep and dream life prepared me for what was insidiously developing. I needed my full awareness and action to prevent potentially dangerous situations from developing. Sometimes what seems apparent is only “smoke and mirrors,” meaning we have been conned or deceived or “led down the garden path” by another, as by a deceitful salesperson, or our own, over believing about something which feels needed or convenient, but not in our or others best interest. Self-deception is probably the worst when we deceive or delude ourselves. For the complete presentation, including my personal story and references, plus video or audio podcast options, go to

What are the early signs of sleep difficulties and tips about what to do?

  1. Pay attention to changes in sleep and appreciate the value as a gauge for possible harmful stress levels and overworking of mental activity. Sleep disturbance can be a warning sensor for the need to pay attention, be alert for danger, or for things that may be detrimental to your best interests; investigate and make necessary changes and take any action required to avoid the consequences of not heeding our natural body’s feedback system.
  2. Significant signs of disturbed sleep, if persistent, may show a need for taking action or getting help:
  • nightmares that wake you up,
  • frequent awakening,
  • clock watching,
  • daytime sleepiness or napping too much during the day,
  • grogginess,
  • difficulty concentrating,
  • difficulties with memory and mental functioning (cognitive performance),
  • brain fog, forgetfulness, loud snoring that wakes you and others,
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep,
  • incessant overactive mental activity as trying to figure something out or solve some dilemma rather than sleeping,
  • negative thoughts and emotions, such as fear or anger, that keep you awake,
  • significant mood changes, anxiety, and irritability.
  • There are medical, emotional, and mental health consequences of the loss of restorative sleep or a buildup of sleep debt—when you get further behind in the amount of sleep needed to maintain health, vitality, and functioning of vital organs, including your brain and nervous system.
  • Be aware of sleep disorders so you will know about them and when to seek help or consultation for such conditions as insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, parasomnias, excess daytime sleepiness, shift work disorders, sleep paralysis, and more; see details and descriptions at
  • Getting inadequate sleep can weaken your body’s immune defenses and put you at higher risks for such illnesses as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, dementia, mental performance difficulties, and cognitive impairment as with memory and learning, auto accidents, mood disorders, and other psychological and physical health conditions.
  • Recommendations for improving sleep include:
  • Consider a better mattress, pillows, and bedding,
  • Block out unnecessary light with optimal bedroom window coverings or eye shades—light from any source may interfere with your sleep cycle and biological rhythm,
  • Minimize noise or drown it out with a noise machine, fan, earplugs, or headphones,
  • Sleep in a cool room, optimally between 65- and 68 degrees Fahrenheit,
  • Ideally, get at least 7 hours of sleep each night,
  • Have a fixed time of getting up each morning and soon after waking, when possible, expose yourself to 30 minutes of natural light exposure or consider a therapeutic light box,
  • Napping is fine; optimally, it should be about 20 minutes after lunch or early afternoon when tired, groggy, or drained. Napping can refresh your mind with clearer thinking, quicker responses, better memory, and better moods. Some may need a longer nap if sleep deprived, an athlete that expends more energy, or as someone in recovery, declining health, or when in pregnancy.
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm, no alcohol in the evening before bedtime, and avoid the use of nicotine and smoking, which can be stimulating,
  • Avoid electronic devices the hour before bedtime and allow time to wind down as light and stimulation from these sources can suppress the regulators and body rhythms for going to sleep,
  • Have a relaxing routine in a low light area 30 minutes before going to bed—I do yoga with stretching and breathing techniques with meditation, and sometimes take a warm bath with a cup to two of Epsom Salt (mag sulfate), or occasionally take a low dose of oral melatonin (1-3 mg), and a magnesium supplement,
  • Try to get 30 minutes or more of active exercise during the day,
  • Eat early in the day and avoid food a few hours before bedtime, as undigested food can interfere with sleep,
  • Limit bed use for sleep and intimacy,
  • Get out of bed after 20 minutes or so if not sleeping, readjust briefly, and then return to bed,
  • For persistent sleep disturbances, consult a sleep expert or therapist and consider some proven effective cognitive behavior sleep therapy programs, such as C.B.T.-I., available online. 
  • To sleep better with the benefits may mean choosing a more optimal and consistent lifestyle, especially when it comes to diet, improving nutrition, exercise, social connectedness, and spiritual awareness.

I appreciate your interest. Please share with others. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter and podcast at All content is created and published for educational purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional or medical services or guidance. Always seek your healthcare provider’s care regarding medical or mental health conditions. This communication is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement. Thank you.

anxiety, holistic therapies, integrative approaches, Integrative Psychiatry, mood disturbance, sleep, Sleep debt, Sleep hygiene


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