Draw Sleep Hygiene Into Your Culture


Thomas didn’t want to organize his life.  It wasn’t fun when things were predictable.  Lately however, that was the problem.  He wasn’t having fun anyways.  Thank God for work.  It was the one firm construct in his life.  Wake up, shower, drive and work until he drove home.  It was like Harold and his purple crayon had drawn this into place but forgot to draw up the rest.  When to go to bed?  When to eat?  When to play?

“Harold!  Get back here.”  

Before, Thomas had resented any imposed restrictions on him.  He liked to graze.  Now, with bewildering awareness of his unhappiness and unbounded self, he wanted help.  If help meant medication and the opinion of others, then so be it.  At least until he found out what happened him.

When Thomas came in to see me, he said he had lost himself.  His personality had changed and he was suffering.  We approached things from the biopsychosocial model.  We ran labs, got him in to see his primary doctor for a physical, considered life-stressors and his support structure.  We started medication and we introduced sleep hygiene.  I almost lost Thomas there.  Changing his sleep was changing his culture and he had enough recollection of his identity to know that he had liked to stay up at night.

Out came the sleep journal.  Thomas turned his body away and looked at me sideways.  We agreed to try improving Thomas’ field of knowledge on sleep and see if he would buy into this for himself.  We set a time-frame for his research and decision.  If he didn’t do the work to get informed, than he’d go with my recommendations until his brain illness improved enough to allow him to do more for himself.  We’d work together with our purple crayon and drawing in some lines.

Sleep hygiene is one of those purple lines in our life that help us know a better sense of who we are.  It does this for many many reasons you can read more about in previous posts listed below if you like – but it does do it.  Regardless of our temperament, if we like to graze or run to the barn, we all need solid refreshing sleep.

Self-Care Tip – Use sleep hygiene as a tool to get friendly with yourself.  Don’t be afraid.

Questions – Do you consider sleep hygiene as a useful tool in your life?  Does it come naturally or do you have to work at it?  How do you draw your lines in?  Please tell me your story.

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12 thoughts on “Draw Sleep Hygiene Into Your Culture

  1. I think sleep is so important. I know that I do not look at things quite the same way when I haven’t slept well. It seems to me it should be one of the first things we look at as a cause instead of one of the latter things. Yet, it is always so hard to admit that I might need to change something I am doing in order to get better.


    • pattyann, i luv hearing from u. thanks. i really resonate w your comment. “It seems to me it should be one of the first things we look at as a cause instead of one of the latter things. Yet, it is always so hard to admit that I might need to change something I am doing in order to get better.” oh our towering persistent pride


  2. It is very refreshing to find someone in practice that uses your holistic approach. BEFORE WE SUGGEST LIFE STYLE CHANGES AND GIVING OUT MEDS, LET’S DO THE BLOOD PANEL AND A COMPLETE PHYSICAL. Having the patient do his own research and gaining insights also empowers him to become a participant in his own recovery.


  3. I’ve just bookmarked this post so that I can look at the links to your other posts on sleep. Thanks for this. I’ve got quite severe sleeping problems stemming from a multitude of different things, but at the moment the major one is that as soon as I feel sleepy I find myself battling against it, and I so dislike myself for that as I know how important sleep is.

    I don’t know if this will help anyone, but I used to get 15 hour long panic attacks which mostly stopped when I withdrew from a nineteen year addiction to Valium, but the thing that I realised was that the trigger for them was not enough sleep. So to get over any that I feel starting, I nip them in the bud by doing one of two things: the first is I get under a warm cover, with the curtains closed and just get comfortable. I can’t usually sleep, but the dark and warmth and knowing that I’m safe should I want to sleep, does help. And the other thing that keeps off my panics is humour. When I was withdrawing, ever afternoon I watched a comedy DVD. 🙂


    • sweet val, thank u for letting me know this.
      sleep can b a real bugger. takes down the best of the best and we all must respect it or b taken down. taking it personally is all too easy to do and i think many of us easily grow self-loathing. thank u for your tips and yes, they do help.
      1. comfort
      2. darkness
      3. sense of safety
      4. humor and other coping skills.
      5. connection

      rich. keep talking val.


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