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Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA

Design a Sleep Routine to aid your personal recovery

A good night’s sleep is healing to the body and mind.

Brian McLaughlin

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To Whom It May Concern:

A good night’s sleep is healing to the body and mind. Conversely lack thereof can be profoundly disruptive in one’s recovery journey. Deprivation of sleep plays havoc with thoughts and emotions. Stability is challenged and every task seems harder.

Sleep, or rather lack of sleep, is one of the greatest challenges I face in my personal recovery. During one cycle I did not sleep for six days. At onset I was not concerned. I used the anomaly to complete all manner of tasks. However, as time went on complex tasks became impossible and I was reduced to ruminating in a thick soup.

With the help of my doctor we hit upon medication that provided me with some relief. Sadly the remedy only provided me with a partial night’s sleep; a sleep that was punctuated with frequent waking. Further, once awake I did not always find my way back to sleep.

I decided additional effort was required of me. During one of my sleepless hours I happened upon a documentary about sleepless infants and young children. The message given the equally sleepless young parents was simple: " Establish a bed time routine." All of the parents reported improvement.

Therefore, I endeavored to establish a routine of my own. My routine was not limited to the last waking hour but encompassed the entire day. With pencil and paper in hand I began to plan my routine. I jotted down every soothing thing I could think of. I imagine everyone’s list will have things in common and something’s unique.

Within my plan I slowly worked to limit caffeine. I implemented a program of light morning exercise. I reduced my exposure to some media. I took long hot showers in the morning and evening. And I placed light reading at bed side along with a hot beverage.

Sleep remains for me fragile. I sometimes wake. However, instead of becoming frustrated I get up to read or watch a bit of TV. I usually fall back asleep in 20 minutes. Sometimes I make it back to my bed, other times I finish the night snug in my favorite chair.

In closing, I strongly suggest the design of a routine, sleep being the goal. This author also encourages his peers not to be angered or upset when sleep does not come or when a night’s sleep is less than perfect.

Respectfully Submitted for Your Consideration,

Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS CSP
MH Advocate
Erie County PA