From our blog, articles tagged: Sleep Hygiene

Why and How We Live Rhythmically at Two Dreams

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken

- Samuel Johnson

Every living organism has a natural rhythm. These rhythms are disrupted by illness, particularly drug and alcohol use. A drug can create false sleep. A drug can stimulate alertness. A drug can suppress appetite. Another can stimulate appetite.

The science behind living rhythmically, strategies that promote and restore natural rhythms, and the role of sleep, nutrition, meditation, and exercise in the 21st century approach to healing oneself in recovery are all important aspects of your journey at Two Dreams.

At Two Dreams the concept of living in the NOW (No Other Way) is central to living a life in recovery. Similarly, mindfulness is a state of active, open, non-judgmental attention on the present. Many treatment programs and practitioners are employing mindfulness in the care and management of patients with mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders- diseases and symptoms which tend to cluster together.

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It is estimated that between 75 and 90 percent of Americans have cell phones. The numbers are increasing each year, with plenty of young children being granted cell phones each year as well.

Now, in and of itself, this is not an issue, but it does become an issue when someone becomes addicted to their cell phone.

Just look around whenever you're out in public. You'll see a good number of people staring at their cell phones. Some are texting, some are scrolling social media sites, or doing something with their cell phone. Oftentimes, you'll see a family out for dinner and each family member is fiddling with their cell phone. No one is talking to each other; they're simply lost in the cell phone world.

Cell phone addiction is very common. One study suggested that about 67% of people habitually check their phone even, when they don't hear it ring or vibrate. It can simply become a habit and perhaps a compulsion to check your phone every few minutes.

 

Am I addicted to my cell phone?

Though cell phone addiction is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders yet, it may very well be in the future. Are you addicted to your cell phone? Here are some signs that you may be:

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Recovery is largely about ritual, and at Two Dreams we encourage the establishment of rituals that promote regular, high quality sleep.

For example, each morning residents on the Outer Banks embark on a sun salutation walk on the beach to expose their retinas to sunlight, encouraging the switch from a sleep state (when GABA brain receptors are activated) to a wake state (when glutamate brain receptors are activated.) In the evening, we recommend shutting off all electronic devices at 8pm, so as to not confuse the body’s sleep/wake neurotransmitter cycle with the unnatural light from the screens. I won’t go into further scientific detail in this article, but if you want to learn more about the neurotransmitters of sleep you should read this informative publication from the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15575797 .

Another ritual we encourage is putting away all food at 8pm. Eating causes the body to go into an arousal state and devote energy to digestion, when ideally it should be settling down for sleep. If you’re starving or hypoglycemic, a small snack is acceptable before bed to avoid mid-night awakenings, but otherwise it’s best to avoid food and drink right before lights-out. Try to plan out your eating patterns so that your last meal falls well before you fall asleep.

In fact, planning out the foods you eat throughout the whole day is not a bad idea either in terms of assuring a good night’s sleep. Certain dietary options have been linked to decreased sleep quality and can have effects on the body that last well into the night:

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To gain control over addiction, it is important to remove all drugs from your system that affect neurological signaling, which includes caffeine.

Although caffeine is commonplace and not considered to be harmful in most cases, it is an addictive substance that can cause its own set of health problems such as upset stomach, sleep disorders, and anxiety. Two Dreams recommends that people undergoing alcohol or drug addiction treatment cut out caffeine in addition to alcohol and drugs for a number of reasons, some of which are listed below.

Exception: we do allow our residents to have a shot of caffeine before taking a 20-minute nap at 2pm. The caffeine takes about 20 minutes to take effect, at which time the nap is over and our clients wake up optimally rejuvenated and ready to continue on with the day.

 

1. Caffeine Increases Stress and Anxiety

Caffeine increases the amount of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine can improve mood, increase attention, and improve motor function, but in excessive amounts can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Drinking caffeinated products leads to this excessive production of acetylcholine, which is followed by a depression in acetylcholine levels. These dips trigger some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with caffeine use, including tiredness, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty falling asleep. This cycle of reward and withdrawal promotes continued caffeine usage and dependence.

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It can be easy to get into the habit of pushing aside concerns and replacing problem-solving behaviors with substance use or other non-constructive methods of coping.

We all get used to behaving in certain ways in response to stress; in fact, after reacting to a situation the same way a few times, our brains program the reaction as an auto-response. When this auto-response is self-destructive, such as using drugs and/or alcohol, our problems can actually begin to amplify and lead to uncontrollable drug use. At this point, a professional may need to step in to help reprogram the brain, disrupt the auto-response function, and teach new behaviors.

 

What is HALT?

One of the most important methods for handling stress, originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous and still used by therapists today, is HALT-ing.

When a person HALTs, they stop and thoughtfully assess their basic needs: hunger, anger, loneliness, or tiredness.

After approaching their needs and desires mindfully, the person can work on resolving their issues in an appropriate manner. Hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness are common craving triggers, so remedying these issues often resolves drug cravings as well.

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It used to be, if you visited a physician for a medical exam, he or she would most likely ask you few if any questions at all about your lifestyle: what kind of food you ate each day, how well you slept each night, and whether or not you incorporated exercise into your life on a regular basis.

Today, it’s standard practice for many healthcare professionals to use a holistic approach in treating their patients. And most likely, when you step into your doctor’s office for a visit, your physician will not only pull out his or her stethoscope, he’ll also inquire about how much exercise you get each week, how much stress you experience in your life on a regular basis, and whether or not you toss and turn each night or get a good night’s sleep most nights of the week.

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Dream Journal

Dr Andrea Barthwell MD FASAMNote from Dr. B.

The holidays can be a difficult time for individuals in recovery: frustrating family members, crazy Christmas parties, stressful shopping trips, etc. You don’t have to let the season get you down though! There are plenty of ways to stay centered and sober during the winter season. Make sure to listen to your body and avoid letting yourself get hungry. Maintain a regular meal plan full of nutritious fruits and vegetables. Eating a plateful of cookies may seem like a good idea when you’re at an event, but the inevitable sugar crash is likely to make you feel irritable and fatigued shortly afterwards. Negative emotions can be a precursor to relapse, so try to avoid the unhealthy snack table as much as you can. I recommend bringing a bag of healthy trail mix to events so that you’ll be prepared if you get hungry.

Sleepiness can also cause irritability and negativity. You are more likely to make irrational decisions when you’re running on a couple of hours of sleep, so try to get at least 7-8 hours of shut-eye every night. Waking up and going to bed at the same time every night will help to keep your body functioning regularly, so try to avoid attending too many late night events. It is also important to sleep in a dark environment, so keep the Christmas lights and glowing decorations out of the bedroom.

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Dream Journal

Dr Andrea Barthwell MD

Note from Dr B.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that I have been featured in the current issue of Addiction Professional Addiction Professional. I emphasize in the article the call to come together as treatment providers and programs and set aside our differences. This message parallels our theme for this month, which is about losing interest in selfish things and gaining interest in our fellows. The disease we face is complex and relentless, and to keep evolving as a community we must face it together.

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Dream Journal

VOLUME IX / SEP 2013


Two Dreams is a wellness program led by Andrea G. Barthwell, MD, FASAM that provides individualized care for those who dream of recovering a healthy lifestyle.

NOTE FROM DR. B.

Dr Andrea Barthwell MD

As we move forward on our path to recovery, I wanted to highlight the Ninth Step with The Ninth Step Promises from Alcoholics Anonymous 3rd ed., pg 83-84

  • We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
  • We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
  • We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
  • No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
  • That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.
  • We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
  • Self-seeking will slip away.
  • Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
  • Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
  • We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
  • We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

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Light regulates circadian rhythms

Why and How We Live Rhythmically at Two Dreams

The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken

- Samuel Johnson

Every living organism has a natural rhythm. These rhythms are disrupted by illness, particularly drug and alcohol use. A drug can create false sleep. A drug can stimulate alertness. A drug can suppress appetite. Another can stimulate appetite.

The science behind living rhythmically, strategies that promote and restore natural rhythms, and the role of sleep, nutrition, meditation, and exercise in the 21st century approach to healing oneself in recovery are all important aspects of your journey at Two Dreams.

At Two Dreams the concept of living in the NOW (No Other Way) is central to living a life in recovery. Similarly, mindfulness is a state of active, open, non-judgmental attention on the present. Many treatment programs and practitioners are employing mindfulness in the care and management of patients with mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders- diseases and symptoms which tend to cluster together.

Read more ...