Helping Kids, Families, Adults & LGBTQ with Care for Over 25 Years

Michelle Topal MSW, LCSW

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Check It Out

I'm really excited. I just revamped my website and it's now up and running. Check it out at

I welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Help Get Me Some Sleep

Sleep is vital to our mental and physical health.   Having had problems with sleep at various times in my life, especially related to stress, I know how it wreaks havoc on the ability to function and enjoy life.  Obviously, reducing stress and anxiety helps, but good "sleep hygiene" is always vital to improved sleep duration and quality.  Here are some things that have worked for me and/or some suggestions I've seen in my research on how to get better sleep:
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays (for me as a night person, this means going to bed late & waking up late consistently).
  • Your bed and bedroom should only be used for sleeping and sex (ugh, no TV :-(.
  • Try not to take naps, especially close to bedtime.
  • Limit the time you spend in bed. Get into bed only when you're sleepy. If you don't fall asleep within 15 minutes or if you wake up and can't fall back to sleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
  • Avoid caffeine (found in coffee, many teas, chocolate, and soda) after 2 p.m., or noon if you are caffeine-sensitive. Avoiding caffeine entirely may be a good idea if you have panic attacks.
  • Avoid eating foods that contribute to heartburn or any gastrointestinal discomfort.
  • Don't drink alcohol for at least 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Limit fluids before bedtime to minimize nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Stop smoking, or at least do not smoke for several hours before going to bed.
  • Exercise regularly, but not within a few hours of bedtime. An afternoon or morning workout is ideal (though I've found this late night workouts not to be a problem for me).
  • Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and as quiet as possible. Stimulii is disruptive to sleep (Our brains are wired to wake us up to protect us.  If only my dogs and cat would gain some insight about this).
  • Replace a worn-out or uncomfortable mattress.
  • Take a hot bath before bedtime.  It's relaxing.
  • Use relaxation techniques to unwind and help you ready your mind and body for sleep.
  • Prepare your body for sleep several hours before bedtime by engaging in relaxing, non-stimulating activities, such as reading, medication, stretching, listening to calming music and/or anything that quiets the mind and body, and avoid stimulating TV, conversations or music.
  • Do not have the TV or music on when trying to sleep. Subtle changes in volume can cause an alert response and wake you up (I learned this the hard way).