In private practice, I often utilize steps from the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) program developed by Dr. Stephen Ilardi. TLC is a 6-step program aimed at enhancing six key areas of your lifestyle in order to combat mental health problems. Originally developed for the treatment of depression, TLC is now often used in the treatment of other mental health conditions as well as overall holistic mind-body wellness.
Presented below is an overview of Step 6 in the TLC program: Sleep.
Poor sleep leads to decreased concentration, negative mood, poor judgment, slowed reaction time, poor coordination, decreased energy, and impaired immune functioning.
Most adults need 8 hours of sleep each night for optimal physical and emotional health.
1. Use the bed only for sleeping and sex. When you are in bed, sleep. When you are not in bed, do not sleep.
• After lying in bed awake for 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing in another room. Return to bed when you feel drowsy.
• Avoid getting into bed anytime you feel drowsy.
• Avoid sleeping anywhere other than your bed.
2. Get up at the same time every day.
• Resist the urge to sleep in on the weekends, even if you feel you need the extra sleep. This will continue the pattern of unhealthy sleep.
3. Avoid napping.
• If you have sleep problems, napping will make things worse.
4. Avoid bright light at night.
• For healthy sleep, it is important for your brain to think the sun has been down for an hour or so before bedtime. Indoor lights can trick the brain. Turn off all bright lights an hour before bed. Use only candles or dim light from that point on.
• When in bed, it is ideal to keep your bedroom dark. Consider using blackout curtains or a sleeping mask.
• Avoid sunlight after 7pm. If you must be outside, where sunglasses.
5. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.
• Avoid caffeine after you have been awake for a few hours. Caffeine has a half-life of 4 hours.
6. Avoid alcohol at night.
• Stop drinking alcohol within a few hours of bedtime. Alcohol leads to poor sleep quality.
7. Keep the same bedtime every night.
8. Turn down your thermostat at night.
• Lowered temperature helps increase the sleep drive.
• Lower thermostat by 5 degrees an hour before bedtime.
9. Avoid taking your problems to bed.
• If your thoughts start running at bedtime, engage yourself in an activity that is distracitng yet relaxing enough to lead to drowsiness, such as.....
• Replay scenes from a favorite movie in your head. • Visualize a relaxing scene.
• Play a round of golf in your mind.
• Use progressive muscle relaxation.
• Use diaphramatic breathing.
• Listen to a relaxation or guided imagery recording.
• Write down your ruminative thoughts to get them out of your head.
Check out the video below to learn about the importance of adequate sleep for mental health.
Ilardi, Stephen. (2009). The Depression Cure. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.
Holland Miller, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist, provides individual and group therapy for adolescents and adults in Austin, TX. Specializing in the treatment of depression, chronic low mood, and chronic stress, she incorporates cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLCs) to enhance positive mood, healthy functioning, and overall well-being.
Dr. Miller is particularly passionate about working with adolescent girls and adult women who want to boost their mood and energy, improve their self-esteem and relationships with others, better cope with stress while reducing anxiety and tension, and develop healthy lifestyle habits for lasting wellness.
When she is not in the office, Dr. Miller enjoys spending time with her husband, daughter, and two mischievous goldendoodles. She can be found discovering the latest Austin adventure, reading and researching, exploring the outdoors on hiking and camping trips, and trying out new recipes.
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