We all intuitively associate poor sleep with irritability, but we don't normally associate sleep with our basic emotional wellbeing and stability. Apart from its ability to alter our mood, we don't consider our emotional life to be actually constituted, in part, by sleep quality. Our daytime experiences impart the principle material for that constitution. For us, everything meaningful is embedded within an emotional or feeling-based core. One of the basic functions of sleep is to prune the massive clutter of information entering our brain on any given day, and to firm up the far reaching associations that are important for intelligence, dexterity, creativity, and memory. That very same process is at play addressing our emotional life. We tend to forget that a great deal of emotional processing has to occur in order for our brain to establish the important facts to remember and incorporate daily. During sleep, the brain needs to prune out not only irrelevant connections, but a massive amount of competing relevant ones. How does it do it? To some degree, by the emotional relevance of the experience. But that means that the brain must re-create the ability to absorb new emotional information the next day. If it does not, it gets bogged down by previous emotions. They begin to take on a life larger, and usually more negative in tone if they are not adequately processed during sleep. They become highly volatile and off-balance. Thus WE become volatile and off-balance.
One of the functions of REM sleep and associated with dream mentation is the process of stripping-out the highly charged emotional aspects of experiences bound for learned-associations and memory, so that we do not constantly relive the strong emotions. The goal is to remember the important connections to the emotional association, not to constantly relive the turmoil. The emerging details of this fundamental role of emotional processing during sleep have profound implications for the very robust association between sleep and depression, mood-disorders, and anxiety disorders. Like many issues related to the clinical evaluation of sleep, current evidence is turning over long held notions that traditionally considered some sleep disorders to be purely secondary to other medical and psychiatric conditions. Increasingly, a revolution in thinking is underway, whereby sleep processes are understood to be at the center of many mechanisms. Nowhere is this bidirectional relationship more apparent than in the realm of mental health. It is absolutely crucial to address basic cognitive and emotional wellbeing with a clearly defined and systematic sleep evaluation. The Tri-Nourish System program augments this process, thorough screening and education— as well as the solution set available from The Insomnia Clinic with the innovative SHUTi Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia program.
It is not advised to address insomnia complaints by asking your physician to prescribe a sleep aid for long-term use without addressing the many factors that contribute to delayed sleep onset or poor sleep quality in general. The key is to treat ALL the components. Treatment requires a thorough and multi-teired assessment. We provide the most comprehensive assessment and education system available today.
To learn more about sleep and emotional wellbeing, transfer to our In-Depth Learning Module designed for wellness providers and select PRIMER C from the main menu.