Popping sleeping pills can be a tactic we use to avoid dealing with the issues that are causing us to lie awake tossing and turning at night. If emotions such as worry, frustration, stress, or anger are keeping you up, do the needed spiritual, practical, or interpersonal work to help you manage and put them aside when it’s time to rest. Humans will never be free of worry—but we can learn to set it aside when we choose to do so.
Many respected experts agree that depression and anxiety are mis-diagnosed and over-medicated. Although many who end up on drugs may not have really needed them, let’s make one thing clear: those of us who have never experienced a major depression or intense anxiety can never understand the experience of people who have. Any person who has ever been severely depressed or anxious has been told at some point by a well-meaning loved one or friend, “Just snap out of it!” or “Get on with your life and you’ll feel better!” or “Just relax!” or “Smile!”
When we are depressed, we tend to want to stop moving. When we are anxious, we tend to move unproductively, fidgeting or pacing. If you’ve slowed down to a crawl and can’t seem to get your engines started, or if you can’t sit still or can’t sleep, try some exercise. Several studies have demonstrated that a moderately intense workout, enough to get your heart pounding and your body hot and sweaty, has as strong an anti-depressant effect as an SSRI.
Depressed people are often depleted of vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin.” Lack of vitamin D is linked to seasonal depression, where people get down in the dumps during the dark, short days of winter. Simply getting out into some direct sun (without sunscreen) for 15 to 30 minutes leads to a boost in vitamin D levels.
Melatonin production in the brain is important to a good night’s sleep. As we age, our pineal gland secretes less melatonin, and we tend to have more trouble going to sleep and sleeping through the night. Fortunately, thanks to the miracles of modern science, you can buy supplemental melatonin to help you get back into a pattern of deep, rejuvenating sleep.