Sleep And Working The Night Shift

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Non-traditional work hours are becoming more prevalent in a more globalized economy. As night shifts or graveyard shifts quickly become the workplace norms, it can be that you lack more than just time apart from social life or rays of sunshine.

Shift Work Sleep Disorder is a condition experienced by night shifters. As per expert Tina Waters, MD, she mentioned that people who work the “third shift” will have issues with their body’s cardiac rhythms. It affects the normal pulsing since the person is awake during the day because of its internal body clock. This is the traditional rhythm of the body. Even if the person is fatigued or super tired at day, he will not go to sleep until it’s time to sleep at night. His senses will keep him awake, which is not healthy when chronic.

Shift work refers to any job that falls outside of a more “traditional” nine to five work schedule, affecting most people who start work before 6:30 a.m. or after 4:30 p.m. — Shelby Harris Psy.D.

This Disorder Is Very Dangerous To One’s Health.

As a preface, not all night shifters will develop shift work sleep disorder. However, if you find yourself having difficulty sleeping, you may want to consult your doctor. He will run some tests to make sure that you’re not affected by any other sleeping disorders like sleep apnea and narcolepsy.

People who lack sleep and who do it often will suffer from dangerous health problems. It should be addressed as early as possible since this prolonged habit can develop into more severe illnesses. Gastrointestinal and metabolic disorders like diabetes can emerge from lack of sleep. In more severe cases, it can even develop into heart disease. One example of how extreme this can get was on a study done with night shift nurses are subjects. In the end, it was ruled that because of their shift work sleep disorder, these nurses were prone to cancer and sterility.

There Are Ways To Prevent Shift Work Sleep Disorder.

For nurses, as stated in the example, it is not an option to change their professions just because of the night shift. Call center agents can also have this issue, or security guards and police officers who work at nights. But not all of them will have this disorder. Some will be able to cope and have a good night’s sleep.

…many nurses go without sleep for 24-hours in order to adjust to their late-night shifts. — Michael J Breus Ph.D.

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Keep A Sleep Schedule.

Start a routine for sleep and enforce it. Provide yourself a more conducive environment for sleep (example; keeping the room dark, reducing background noise, or listening to calming sounds, and more). It’s also a good idea to keep a sleep diary to record how many hours of sleep you’ve achieved every night.

Go To Sleep Immediately After Working.

It helps to minimize your exposure to light for at least 30 minutes before sleeping as light is the primary factor that keeps people awake. Make the most of it by going to sleep immediately after work before sunrise.

Drink Lessen Caffeine.

Morning routines may need caffeine, but while working nights, consider reducing your caffeine intake within four hours before your shift ends.

In addition to the common sources of caffeine (e.g., coffee, soda, and energy drinks), we also need to consider hidden sources. — Lauren Woolley, PhD

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Establish Some Boundaries.

Inform people what time your sleep hours are and do not entertain them otherwise. Be strict in setting boundaries to leave you alone during sleeping hours to maximize rest.

If these practices can not remedy your sleep disorder, consult your doctor on how to better address your sleep problems. Therapy, medication, or consultations can be provided to help you stave off more severe symptoms.

 

 

 

How Negative Emotions Can Lead To Insomnia

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Lack of sleep can make you moody and cranky for the entire day. Since you did not get enough rest for the previous night, there is a high possibility that you will feel exhausted all throughout the day. You will lose focus on all the activities and tasks that you need to complete. At the same time, it can also result in having strained relationships with the people around you since you are more likely to become impatient. Because of all these things, it is essential for you to get the right amount of sleep every single night.

While adults may not need as many hours of sleep as kids, rest is still important. Yet as we get older, have more free will, and are inundated with modern technologies and daily stressors, we often neglect good sleep habits and can consequently wind up facing things like chronic insomnia, poor health, irritability, lack of concentration, and even impaired judgment from neglecting to give our bodies the sleep they require. — Megan MacCutcheon, LPC

Continue reading “How Negative Emotions Can Lead To Insomnia”

Reducing Insomnia For Those Working The Night Shift

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Insomnia can be a by-product of night-shift work due to the demands of having to work during odd hours. A typical case would be like this – a person will operate starting at 11 in the evening, and then gets off at 7 in the morning. This would last for five days a week, and then, they are expected to have a “normal” sleep cycle on the weekends so that they could interact with their friends and family.

Millions of Americans are shift workers, including doctors, nurses, construction workers, police officers, pilots and commercial drivers. — Shelby Harris Psy.D.

What people around them don’t understand is that this cycle of not sleeping at nights can lead to an inconsistent sleep cycle that leaves one feeling tired all the time. The body’s internal clock is unable to make adjustments and cannot adapt to the switching of rest and sleep between night and day activities.

Your body is wired to function during the day and rest at night. This is its normal cycle. And so, if you have shift work, it will be contrary to the natural order of things. Prolonged night shift work can lead to some adverse effects; lack of proper sleep can decrease alertness during waking hours and lead to accidents, reduced efficiency at work, and increase the probability of stress.

In fact, a lot of people’s sleep problems can be attributed to an internal clock that has become out of sync or mismatched with the day-night cycle. — Michael J Breus Ph.D.

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Best Practices For Sleep Recovery

Regrettably, night shift work is a mandatory need in most professions, so it would be difficult to avoid. The best one can do to practice some habits that can reduce the adverse effects of shifting hours – here are some examples.

  • Keep a practical schedule for sleep versus family time and socializing. Find time to sleep that will, in turn, maximize the time you can spend with family and friends. Keep this schedule consistent.
  • Be strict about your sleep schedule. Keep to a consistent time for sleep and stick with it. Every hour, on the hour, even on weekends or off days.
  • Plan your activities ahead of time, so they don’t cross your sleep schedule. You may need to find night time options for otherwise day time activities like going to a bank or seeing a 24/7 grocery store.
  • Try to sleep in one long stretch instead of sleeping sporadically and napping in off-hours.
  • Maintain a pleasant sleeping environment by minimizing noise disturbances like phones, doorbells, and TVs. You may also consider getting a white-noise machine or using soft ear-plugs.
  • Keep your room dark by blocking out sunlight or using shades. Exposure to light is the prime factor that signals our bodies to wake, so it’s integral to have precautions to address this. The bright-light machine that’s used for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder can also be helpful for your awake hours.

Environmental disturbances including noisy neighbors, a snoring partner, or a playful pet in bed can make it challenging to catch some Z’s.  — Lauren Woolley, PhD

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These are just some examples on how to get some good night’s sleep if you work the night shift. It may work for you if your situation or issues is not that extreme. However, for people with a severe case of insomnia, seek out a medical professional’s help for consultation. It can be shift work sleep disorder. With this problem, you might require a sleep therapy program or some medication to help you with your severe sleep problem.

Is Coffee Keeping You Up All Night?

Drinking coffee is probably one of the things that you enjoy doing every day. Having caffeine in your system can make you more productive for a given day. However, there are times when you wish coffee has no effects at all especially if you are trying to get a good sleep. Worry no more since you can still sleep soundly at night without giving up coffee.

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Continue reading “Is Coffee Keeping You Up All Night?”

Tests And Assessments for Shift Work Sleep Disorder

It’s best to consult your doctor or physician if you think you have shift work sleep disorder. Your health history would be reviewed, and the doctor may ask questions regarding your symptoms and sleep patterns. He may also use some of these instruments to get an overview of your problem better.

According to U.S. labor statistics, about 20 percent of the workforce, or about 19.7 million U.S. workers, are early risers who begin work between 2:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. — Michael J Breus Ph.D.

The following instruments are:

  1. Sleep Diary. Before seeing your doctor, for at least two weeks, you have to record your sleep everyday pattern. The information gathered will help determine if a disorder causes your issues or not.
  2. Sleepiness Scales. Your doctor will determine if you may be experiencing an extreme level of sleepiness by asking questions regarding the level of drowsiness during periods that you wish to stay awake.
  3. Sleep Studies. You may be asked to undergo a non-invasive examination, a sleep study (Polysomnography), that take note of somebody functions while sleeping, like brain waves, heart rate, oxygen level, etc., if your doctor thinks that there is an underlying sleep disorder for your symptoms. These are conducted overnight in a lab or at home.

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Shift work goes directly against what our bodies desire to do, and those that struggle with this may suffer from shift work sleep disorder (SWSD). — Shelby Harris Psy.D.

Questions Your Doctor Will Ask You If You’re Showing Signs Of Shift Work Sleep Disorder

Your doctor may ask you the following during your consultation about sleep symptoms resulted from your shift schedule:

  • Medical history
  • Detailed symptoms on how long, how frequent, and how these signs interfere with your life
  • Your work schedule and sleep habits
  • Any history with other sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and more

Your doctor will also talk to you and interview you about what you are feeling and experiencing. From there, and all the other tests are done, the medical expert will be able to diagnose if you have a disorder, or not.

Creating a bedtime routine can play a vital role in getting good sleep. — Lauren Woolley, PhD

You Need To Talk About These Things With Your Doctor

  • Could it be that my signs and symptoms are indicators of my night shift work? Yes or No? And Why?
  • How can I cope with this problem? If I have the disorder, how can I manage it? Can I make it go away? Will I be cured?
  • If I have a disorder, what is the best treatment available? Is this treatment applicable to me and my sleep disorder?

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Medication Safety & Shift Work Disorder

It’s essential to follow your doctor’s order if he put you under medication.

Medications may be useless and even make your sleep problem worse if not taken properly, and thus, you should take the proper dosage as prescribed.

Before a doctor put you on medication, they must know your health history, including those medications you’re currently taking. Drugs can have side effects, and it is essential to know about it and record any changes.

It is essential to understand the body still needs enough sleep to function, and those medications do not make up for the absence of sleep.

Thus, even if you are on medication, make sure to also apply the behavioral change for long-term healthy sleep, because these medications are not a long-term solution but somewhat as a temporary approach to help improve your symptoms.

 

 

 

 

Sleep And Relationship: What’s The Connection?

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Do you ever wonder if your sleeping pattern can affect your relationship with your partner? Have you noticed how your mood changes when you have a good night sleep? If you answered yes to these questions, then this article is perfect for you. We have laid down some of the possible consequences that lack of sleep can do to your romantic or intimate relationships:

Continue reading “Sleep And Relationship: What’s The Connection?”

Shift Work Sleep Disorder Or Insomnia?

Bad habits breed many of our sleep problems. — Lauren Woolley, PhD

People who have difficulty falling asleep, or remaining asleep for an extended period and as their bodies require may be suffering from shift work sleep disorder. Shift work sleep disorder can be similar to insomnia. The former is directly connected to a person’s employment schedule, while many sources cause the latter. In reality, it is more likely to have difficulty with one’s shift schedule.

Did you have a good night’s sleep during those times wherein you didn’t work night shifts? Since your started working graveyard, did you have difficulty sleeping during the day, and usually end up not sleeping, or chronically lack sleep? If you answered yes to both questions, then, it’s a sure sign that your night shifts cause your sleep issues.

Shift Work Sleep Disorder: Medical Treatments

If you have already tried the non-medical options (example; good sleeping habits, adjusting your sleep setting and schedule, and doing relaxation methods) and yet, symptoms persist, then, your doctor may suggest some medications.

Below are medications that could help you stay awake at work so that you could sleep during the day, which is what you need the most right now.

Alertness: Some prescriptions work by switching on the system that keeps your brain alerts, such as Armodafinil and Modafinil.

Sleeping: Sleep aids, such as, benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, and certain antidepressants to momentarily help a shift worker who needs to sleep during odd hours.

Ask your doctor which one suits you best, and if you have doubts, ask for the side effects of these medications on you.

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Successful treatment involves resetting the circadian rhythm so they properly match the work-sleep schedule. — Shelby Harris Psy.D.

Shift Work Disorder: Non-Medical Treatments

In addition to non-medical options mentioned above, these options help improve job alertness and regulate your sleep.

Melatonin

A person’s body produces melatonin. It is a natural chemical that makes a person tired. The melatonin level changes throughout the day and night. If at night, you are exposed to light, it disrupts the natural melatonin production, which can result in disturbed sleep and many health-related problems. If you need to alter to an odd schedule, consuming melatonin may help “reset” your body clock.

Light Therapy

For your body clock, light is a powerful indicator. It affects your wake/sleep pattern with its alerting effect and gradually shifting your sleep pattern depending on the schedule of light exposure. This help establishes a healthier sleep or wake pattern based on your needs. This is prescribed as a way to help you change your sleep patterns to improve work alertness and productivity, but the extent of light therapy and timing should be appropriately determined.

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Caffeine

This is a good source of alertness and productivity during shift. It has been found that caffeine even as low as 200mg improve attentiveness for those who like to be awake during the night. Caffeine consumption after a nap is beneficial, and it remains in your system for hours, so make sure to minimize caffeine intake as your shift ends.

While it may help in the short term, the long term benefit of messing with your circadian rhythms is anything but helpful.  — Michael J Breus Ph.D.

A person needs to sleep at least seven hours each day, straight and nonstop. This is the time when our bodies are recuperating, and sleep restores the balance. If you are not sleeping right because of your shift at work, then, you will have to find a way to sleep during the day without disruption. As to how you will do that, if you are having problems, ask help from a medical professional.

Getting Insomnia Due To Depression? Here Are Practical Ways To Overcome That

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Therapists are very much aware that when they signed up to get certified, they would be dealing with people with long-term conditions. After all, there is no cure for most mental health disorders. The psychologists or psychiatrists can prescribe pills or sedatives, but they can only do so much for a short period. Worse, some drugs often induce withdrawal symptoms. If the patient cannot handle the shaking and other indications, they may have to ask to continue the same prescription. For this reason, it should not be surprising to come across an individual whose existing illness has already comorbid with addiction.

Consider establishing care with a therapist if emotional distress is playing a role in poor sleep. Often, sleep improves over the course of therapy. — Lauren Woolley, PhD

In the patients’ point of view, they will rather risk becoming addicted or paying thousands of dollars for therapy, especially if they have depression. Unlike anxiety, which tends to go away when your source of panic is gone, it does not have an off button. If you are depressed now, you will stay that way until you feel like getting over it. The result is that you may not be able to eat, work, connect to your loved ones, or even sleep.

Yes, depression can cause insomnia. In case you wonder what depressed individuals do when they seem to hide from you, some typically sit on their bed without any light on for hours. They may try to watch a movie or read a book, but it’s as if the images or words are passing their eyes without getting absorbed. Even when they lay their head on a pillow and close their eyes, sleep hardly visits them.  In truth, they can last for a couple of days without sleeping, and it will only happen when their body is too exhausted.

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As sad as it may be, therapy is not always the only solution to this issue. From my experience, trying things on my own helped more than the treatments I had. I’m not saying you should self-medicate, but if you want to overcome depression without spending on more than diagnosis, you should have a go at these practical tips.

Detoxify Yourself

The reality is that having a lot of projects, relationship issues, and jealous friends can be bad for you. You can’t do anything; you think of what you want to say to them even if you can’t. If they depress you too much, you may detoxify by taking a break and going to a place where you can’t see them for a while. This way, you can refresh your mind and think of what to do next.

Your brain eventually associates these things with winding down and going to sleep. Having a regular routine can make it easier for you to feel tired and ready for sleep at bedtime. — Megan MacCutcheon, LPC

Free Your Emotions

The individuals who are too timid to open up about how they feel are more prone to falling into depression than others. You do not have to talk to people about it if you are not ready for that yet. However, you need to find an outlet for your emotions if you want to get over your depression, as well as insomnia in the process.

For instance, you can try writing in a journal every day. Any good or awful thing that has happened to you today should be written there. In case you are looking for more action than that, you are free to throw your plates against a wall or go up the mountains to yell at the top of your lungs. What matters is that you let go of every heartache with each word you write, every kitchenware you break, and each step you take up the mountains.

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Join Organizations

Busying yourself with thinking about what could’ve gone wrong with your relationship or your career is not the best way to spend your day if you want to get better. Join pro-animal groups or charitable institutions where you do something good not only for your self but also for the other people (or animals) that might need your help.

Ride A Bike

I don’t know how to ride a bike, but a friend told me that whenever he has a serious problem that he can’t immediately resolve, he pedals his bike for as long as his arms and legs can take. He will only stop when a solution forms in his mind because according to him, riding a bike balances not only his body but also his mental and emotional disposition. If you’re worried over something, try doing the same thing that my friend did.

Researchers at Japan’s Tokyo Medical University investigated the influence of nightmares on depression, both independently and in conjunction with insomnia. They found the presence of nightmares associated with aggravating effects on depression. — Michael J Breus Ph.D.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with depression and insomnia cannot seem easy, especially if the former is the cause of the latter. Hence, to make things easier for yourself, you should try the tips mentioned above to overcome depression first. You’ll see, once the disorder doesn’t bother you too much, you will be able to sleep better.

Good luck!

Why Psychologists Link The Food We Eat To Our Mind And Body

It’s fairly common knowledge that research confirms getting enough restful sleep is an important part of staying healthy and operating at your best. Unfortunately, some adults find it difficult to sleep well, and many have fallen into patterns that are counterproductive to obtaining the best rest possible. — Megan MacCutcheon, LPC

Anyone who has visited a psychologist can attest that at least once, the expert mentioned the importance of having a healthy diet to the mind and the body. Psychologists would always say this again and again. A healthy diet, not just eating, is beneficial to both our physical and mental health aspects. Science and clinical research studies very much assist this fact.

Our needs may vary, but the vitamin and mineral levels mostly found in different natural types of food that we consume are almost identical to any human being. As such, doctors suggest that we consume at least 64 grams of protein a day or at least 8 milligrams of iron daily. The question now is, how are these dietary requirements even linked to our mental and physical aspects?

Psychologists have the following principal reasons:

Improves Our Figure

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We are all aware that a balanced diet is key to a more fit and leaner you. If one is a calorie-conscious individual, he or she should opt for a greener diet. Some food will mask our hunger without the need to consume more calories and bad fat or cholesterol.

A healthy food table and greener everyday meals are always the first steps to condition the body and mind towards the start of balanced well-being. Let’s not forget that our physique is more often than not related to our mental aspect. It’s never a secret that most of us tend to focus on our shape. After all, our form or the way we see ourselves in the mirror has an impact on our self-confidence.

Reduces Risks Of Certain Diseases Or Illnesses

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The physical shape should not always be our sole reason to mind the food we eat every day. Consumption of vegetables, fruits, and other natural or organic food is still the best prevention of diseases that each of us has a chance of getting. Research reports the positive impact of having a balanced meal in lowering our chances to heart diseases, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and bone problems, among others.

Psychologists would also suggest that we see a dietitian or a doctor to assess our nutrient needs and other dietary requirements. It’s essential that we take note of the minimum vitamin and nutrient requirements that we have to drink every day. Let us also remove the false notion that one single take of these vegetables and fruits would solve all our problems. Remember, the practice of eating healthy should become a habit.

Stopping caffeine use can help if you’re having trouble sleeping. If giving it up completely feels too intimidating, try limiting use to the morning or decreasing the amount (e.g., half-caffeinated coffee). — Lauren Woolley, PhD

Improves Our Mood And Emotions

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Having a healthy diet does not stop at the physical benefits. When we are hungry and feeling blue, we eat, and it is undeniable that we feel better right after. Sweets have been proven to be beneficial to our everyday moods. Right consumption of such food or desserts (those with a high percentage of carbohydrates) can help our body and brain produce more serotonin. This chemical is known to contribute to our mental well-being positively.

There is also an interesting study showing that a perfectly balanced diet makes one seek outside activities and enjoy participating in such social gatherings. This fact is beneficial to the social development of children. Such study shows that kids consuming proper nutrients with the right hydrating patterns are friendlier than others.

Doctors, however, still warn us that we should be able to watch our sweet intakes and cholesterol levels. High consumption of sweets and other sugary food is clinically proven linked to high risks of depression and other mood disorders. Sweets and other sugary food are not always bad, but too much is a big no-no. We all know by now how much is too much anyway.

…just eat an ounce or so of animal protein or raw nuts and an ounce of a starchy carbohydrate just before going to sleep. Do this for several nights before determining efficacy.  — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP

Promotes Positive Thinking

There is particular food that science says are capable of boosting our positive thinking skills. There are studies linking probiotics to the decreased chances of having negative thoughts. Researchers, therefore, conclude that the consumption of these nutrients is an excellent preventive strategy against depression and other mood disorders.

Everyone should seek a balanced diet, not because of the physical benefits but also its considerable mental and emotional benefits. True enough, results are not attainable overnight, but let’s keep in mind that mental disorders are always ‘silent killers.’ We should not wait until it is already there.

Tips In Controlling Mood Swings Due To Insomnia

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It is very difficult to fall and stay asleep if you are very anxious, ruminate on stressful things that happened in the day, or fixate on things happening in the future. — Megan MacCutcheon, LPC

One of the worst illnesses that you can get is insomnia. It sucks not to get the right amount of sleep every night because you have a sleeping condition. Unfortunately, the presence of this disorder can cause adverse effects in your life, particularly on your productivity as well as mood swings. Whether you like it or not, there will be days when you are filled with stress and anxiety because you did not sleep well at night. Do not fret because there are several ways on how you can handle this situation.

Below are the smart ways that you may consider if you want to say goodbye to mood swings brought about by insomnia:

 

Drink Lots of Water

Lack of sleep can make you look and feel exhausted and tired for the entire day. As such, it is essential that you do something that can energize you. An excellent way of making this possible is to drink lots of water in the morning. If possible, drink at least two glasses of cold water as it will be sufficient to kick start your day. However, do not forget that you have to keep on drinking water throughout the day to sustain your energy.

 

Eat Breakfast

Before you leave for the day, be sure to grab a bite for your breakfast. Do not go to your office without having something on your stomach. Otherwise, you will only end up anxious and stressed for the entire day. Once this happens, it can be expected that you will not feel good about yourself and everything around you. As a result, you may end up getting pissed off easily or annoyed by the quirks of your co-workers.

 

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Talk To A Friend

The moment you realize that you already have mood swings, it is best to start a conversation with a good friend of yours. Make sure that this person is someone who can be funny and exciting to be around. Talk about why you are upset for that day so that your friend can comfort you. The mere act of talking about your insomnia to this individual can already be therapeutic on your part.

 Enlisting the support of caring others, such a friends and family members, can be helpful when you’re trying to regulate your sleep. — Lauren Woolley, PhD

Be With The Right People

Insomnia can make you feel sad and down because you do not have the right amount of energy levels to get on for the day. As such, you may become unproductive in your work. To reverse this, all you have to do is to surround yourself with the right people in the office. Be with a group of friends who are there to motivate each other during the bad days. Just by being around them, you are already allowing yourself to relax. The more you do this, the lesser chance you have for acting moody.

 

Listen To Feel Good Songs

Another way of cheering yourself up is to listen to a playlist that is filled with feel-good songs or tracks. Have a playlist on your phone that is composed of songs that are uplifting or inspiring. Make sure to select the music with the right beat and tone. According to research, the music you listen to can affect the way you perceive your reality. As such, if you continue to listen to great songs, you will have a better chance of feeling happiness.

 

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Indulge To Your Cravings

Not getting enough sleep for the night before can also increase your cravings for your favorite food. The best and ideal thing that you can do is to give in to these cravings every now and then. Take note that if you commit an error or fail to do this, you may end up feeling irritated. At the same time, you will also lose focus for the day because you would feel that something is missing. Hence, do not be afraid to give in to the food items that you want to eat on that day. However, it is suggested only to take small bites so as not to destroy your diet in one day.

If you believe that your insomnia is causing more than sleepless nights and mood swings, it is best to consult with a medical doctor or seek professional help from a licensed therapist. Take all the necessary steps for the treatment so that you can finally get a good night sleep.