Why Do We Need Sleep? (Sleep Foundation)
How to Get on a Sleep Schedule (Sleep.org)
April Morris, LCSW, provides outpatient therapy for adolescents and adults age 16 and over. She uses a multi-faceted trauma-informed therapy approach including a variety of therapy techniques. She enjoys working with clients from all walks of life, and is honored to join them on their mental health journey and help them build skills to adapt to life challenges.
Tim Unsinn: Welcome to Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services, an outpatient behavioral health clinic located in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo, North Dakota. In this podcast, I will talk with our experts about understanding and nurturing our mental health and wellness. I'm your host, Tim Unsinn. Join me each episode as we explore the intricacies of our minds, decrease the stigma of mental illness, learn practical tips for managing our mental health and wellbeing, and recognize when it's time to ask for help. Join me now to Mind Your Mind.
TU: Welcome to this episode of Mind Your Mind. Our guest is April Morris. April is an outpatient therapist in Fargo and provides therapy for those over 16, primarily adults. April, it's great to have you on Mind Your Mind.
April Morris: Thanks for having me.
TU: Our topic is something that is not overrated very often, and that is sleep. However, before we get to the topic, there's a question I ask all of our guests of Mind Your Mind: Why do you do what you do?
AM: Definitely a hard question to answer. I think there's a lot of reasons why I'm drawn to what I do, but I really like to teach. I like to help people learn new things. And I also like to keep learning, and in this field, you're definitely always learning. And I'm just really humbled to be part of someone's story.
TU: Thanks April. Our topic is sleep and this is one that seems to get not a lot of attention, but is really so important for our bodies, not just our physical, but our mental health. So how does sleep impact mental health?
AM: Well, it is so unbelievably important. It's something that spans across all generations, no matter what age we need it, right? So it's like having gas for your car. You have to have it, or it's not going to work or run. And just like signs that we would take if our gas is running low, we have to take signs of when our bodies, you know, running low on sleep, what sleep deprivation would look like, just like dehydration or anything else. So super important. Impacts [to] our mental health are huge. We can be more moody, sensitive, irritable, impulsive. [It] really can impact our relationships, as well as our functioning. Our concentration's down, our memories changed. The amygdala's actually in charge of our emotional response. And there was a study done that 60% of people were more emotionally reactive if they were sleep-deprived.
AM: Also our prefrontal cortex is essentially our voice of reason to emotions and impulse control. So sleep impacts both of those immensely. The hypothalamus keeps hormone balance. So, for example, if we have too much cortisol in our body, it puts us in a greater state of stress, let's say, and you know what it's like when we have increased stress; that also impacts our mood, mood disorders, sleep disorders in general. During sleep, our memories, emotions, and other information are being processed and stored, so it's very important that we get restful sleep. Ten to 18% of the general population have sleep concerns. Fifty to 80% of those are people with mental health disorders. So it drastically increases for those already struggling with anxiety or depression. Other health consequences, like when we talked about physical consequences, you're at an increased rate for heart disease, diabetes, right? Physical concerns in addition to your mental health.
TU: So you talk about the lack of sleep and you know, I think of people when they're hungry, they're angry, we call that hangry. So if we're sleep deprived and we're angry, it's "slangry." I guess we'll go with "slangry" as a new word. So mental health, now we're talking about sleep hygiene. What exactly is sleep hygiene? Is that something I can get at the store?
AM: Okay, well, you can't get it at a store, but just like hygiene for your teeth, your skin or other body parts, it's just how we care for ourselves. Right? So healthy habits for sleep is what sleep hygiene is. Some things that you can think about that are important to do during the day. Getting enough sunlight, right? Physical activity; trying not to eat too late at night. They say three to four hours is how long it takes for your stomach to empty. And also just avoiding disruptive foods like spicy, greasy foods that might give you heartburn and keep you up all night. Limiting naps, right? Ideally avoiding naps, but limiting them to 20 to 30 minutes is kind of the ideal recommended timeframe and keeping a fixed wake-up time. So no matter what you always want to keep your body on the same wake-time. Of course, avoiding caffeine, nicotine alcohol; that all impacts how we flow through our sleep cycles. So ideally caffeine and nicotine would be avoided at least six hours before bed.
TU: So we often hear about people that have "accountability buddies" for different things. How easy or hard would it be to, you know, have that accountability buddy for sleep to make sure that you're getting enough sleep. Are you like checking in on somebody? How would that work out?
AM: You know, that might work out because, you know, even just checking in and having somebody that knows that you're prioritizing sleep, right? So it's really easy for us to stay out late and do a lot of social things or when you're in school staying up late to study, but it is hard. We need to prioritize sleep because it impacts our functioning greatly. So it actually impacts your school by staying up late. So it's kind of counterproductive, right? So, some of the things that we do is establish our same routine that we do every night. Start about 30 minutes before bedtime, make sure your room is comfortable, cool temperature, a comfortable bedding, blocking out the light if you can. Dim your lights closer to bedtime; they actually say that it hinders our melatonin production, the bright lights. And moving into that, of course, everybody talks about electronics, right?
AM: We should try to limit them an hour before bed; the blue light impacts our melatonin. I know a lot of people say, "Well, I can't sleep without the TV on." Okay, can you use white noise machine? Or at the very least set a timer because you don't want it to impact all of your sleep cycles all night long. So at the very least, if you just can't give it up, a timer would be good. And a lot of people try to just engage in calming activities before bed, right? So there's different apps like the Calm app and Headspace; [they're] super popular. Doing progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, just some calming body activities that you can do about 30 minutes before bed. And don't get overwhelmed if you feel like, "Oh my gosh, I'm not doing any of these things." You can start to implement a couple of things into your routine over time and really develop good sleep hygiene.
TU: I always say the beauty of podcast, [there's] an opportunity to rewind, listen again, rewind, listen again. It's just that easy. April, some great information; thank you. That really helps us out. Now, as we wrap up, our topic was sleeping. As we wrap up, I have one last question for you. What do you do personally, to mind your mind? I know sleep is a big one for you trying to get some of that these days.
AM: Yes. I definitely have small children, so getting enough sleep is challenging. I think a big part of that is just making sure I'm staying active with my family. During the day, they do keep me busy. I enjoy the lakes and I think something else to consider, too, is just asking for help if I'm really tired and just making sure that I'm getting help. And you just got to take care of yourself.
TU: April Morris has been our guest on Mind Your Mind. Our topic was sleep. April is an outpatient therapist in Fargo and provides therapy for those over 16, primarily adults. April, thank you for your time.
TU: Thank you for joining us for Mind Your Mind, a podcast presented by Dakota Family Services. You can't have health without behavioral health. Remember to mind your mind. For more information, links to additional resources, contact information, and much more, go to dakotafamilyservices.org.
People tend to perceive risk as being inherently negative. But for teenagers, risk-taking is a healthy, normal, and important part of growing up. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, about creating a safe environment for your teenager to take risks—and knowing when to step in when they start taking risks that could result in serious and long-term negative consequences.;
Fifteen-25% of American students have experienced bullying. And cyberbullying is on the rise. Children who experience bullying suffer from long-lasting effects including depression, anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, low academic achievement, and more. Children engaging in bullying behavior are impacted as well. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services therapist, April Morris, LMSW, talks about the impact of bullying and what parents can do to help.;
2020 was the year for living with chaos. Everything—at home, at work, and at school—is out of sync and changing from day to day. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dakota Family Services psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer, shares simple tips for building routine and structure into your life. She also provides an excellent, yet simple, way to ground yourself when you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious.;
Children experience grief over many things—the loss of a loved one, moving away from their friends, the death of a pet. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the stages of grief, and how to walk your child through the grieving process. He will also talk about ways to determine if your child needs to see a professional who can help them untangle the many emotions of grief.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about suicide warning signs and things you can do to make a difference. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, wants to normalize conversations about suicide so people don't feel like they are suffering alone. She says, "There is never a reason to not ask the question, 'Hey, are you OK?' Asking the question can save a life.";
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Dr. Wayne Martinsen. Dr. Martinsen, Medical Director and Psychiatrist at Dakota Family Services, defines wellness as more than just the absence of disease, but as a state of well-being. In this episode he will share current wellness research, questions to ask to determine your own well-being, and steps you can take to achieve and maintain wellness.;
When someone in our life has cancer, it's difficult to know what to say or how to help. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to April Morris about how you can best support a friend or loved one who has cancer. Morris, an outpatient therapist at Dakota Family Services, shares tips for knowing what/what not to say, and actions that speak louder than words.;
Stress does not discriminate, and it comes in many shapes and forms. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Dr. Megan Spencer talks about ways to identify and listen to the stress in our bodies. Learn relaxation techniques for managing stress over time, self-care routines that decrease negative stress, and things you can do to bring calm into your life.;
Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our well-being. Exercise increases our mental alertness, energy, and positive mood. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Christy Wilkie, therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about how movement, even for five minutes, can promote changes in the brain that lead to neural growth, reduced inflammation, and feelings of calm and well-being. Listen now to learn more about how moving your body can improve your mental health.;
Diagnosing children with a mental health-related condition can be controversial. Many worry this gives children a label that is set in stone and will follow them around their entire lives. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen talks about the role of diagnosis in getting children the help they need. Martinsen encourages us to think about mental health diagnoses the same as we do any health diagnosis. If you go the doctor and they diagnose you with strep throat, that doesn’t mean you’ll have strep throat forever, or that you are a strep throat victim. It just means that you have a collection of symptoms that point to strep throat, and the doctor will use that diagnose to provide the appropriate treatment.;
ADHD is diagnosed and treated at a much higher rate than in the past, especially in the United States. Why? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist/Medical Director at Dakota Family Services, explains how the changing world has made it harder for people with shorter attention spans to be successful. In the past, if school was hard for you, you could get a job, work your way up, and live a middle-class lifestyle. Not so in today’s world. Learn more about this fascinating take on ADHD.;
In today's episode of Mind Your Mind, your host Tim Unsinn talks with Christy Wilkie about the Feelings Wheel*. Christy, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, says humans experience 34,000 different feelings! She demonstrates how to use the Feelings Wheel to help you identify your emotions so you can control the behaviors associated with them. *Adapted by classtools.net from the Emotional Wheel. The Emotional Wheel was developed by American psychologist, Dr. Robert Plutchik.;
In today's episode of "Mind Your Mind," Vanessa Lien, Nurse Practitioner, talks about the many changes occurring in the teen brain. The teenage brain is highly susceptible to stress, but it is also very resilient. Learn coping strategies you can teach your teen to protect their brains and help them cope with stress and emotional struggles.;
Going back to school after summer vacation can be a stressful time for both kids and parents. The transition from the unstructured summer to a more regimented routine can lead to stress and anxiety. Worries about fitting in, bullying, homework, getting to school on time, and dealing with peer pressure are all additional stressors that may weigh on children when it's time to go back to school. In this episode of “Mind Your Mind,” Tim Unsinn speaks with Therapist Falan Johnson. Falan helps us understand why back to school anxiety is common, provides strategies for managing the added stress, and shares resources parents can use to prepare their children for the new school year.;
The grief of losing a friend or loved one to suicide is complicated and can be especially difficult. In addition to the grief, sadness, and loneliness of any loss, people might experience guilt, confusion, rejection, anger, and shame. The stigma of suicide complicates it even more, often preventing survivors talking about their loss or getting the help they need. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Tim Unsinn visits with Dakota Family Services' therapist, Christy Wilkie. Christy helps listeners understand the complicated nature of suicide grief and how to move through it with compassion and self-acceptance.;
You will be shocked at the seemingly safe places predators can connect with your children online. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, talks about the things you need to know to keep your children safe. Learn the many websites and platforms used to target children, how to monitor their internet usage, and how to talk to your children about the dangers.;
Pregnancy and the birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time, but some women struggle with their mental health as they transition to motherhood. Depression, anxiety, and other pregnancy-related mental health conditions may surface during or after pregnancy. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Tim Unsinn speaks with Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Megan Spencer. Dr. Spencer helps us understand the common symptoms and causes of postpartum depression, as well as what to do if you think you may be experiencing it.;
Did you know that in addition to calming and focusing our minds, meditation can improve our physical health? In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Wayne Martinsen, Psychiatrist, Dakota Family Services, about the surprising health benefits of meditation. A regular meditation practice can increase longevity, reduce the risk of dementia, reduce inflammation, and play a significant role in the treatment of high blood pressure and immune disorders. Learn about the many forms of meditation and how you can start your own meditation practice today.;
Anxiety and depression are invisible illnesses—meaning they don't have outward symptoms visible to others. Because they are invisible, they are often hard for people to explain. In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Host Tim Unsinn visits with April Morris, LCSW, Therapist, Dakota Family Services. April references the spoon theory of chronic illness created by Christine Miserandino, an award-winning writer, blogger, speaker, and lupus patient advocate. Listen now to learn more about spoons as a metaphor for energy and how you can use them to understand and explain anxiety and depression.;
While we hear a lot about autism in the news, many of us still have misconceptions about its causes and symptoms. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist Falan Johnson dispels some of these misconceptions and explains the three levels of autism. Johnson then focuses on the least understood level—high functioning autism. Learn how to identify symptoms of high functioning autism in your child, the importance of early intervention, and ways you can support them.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, therapist April Morris talks about boundaries. April will define boundaries, explain their importance, and help you set boundaries that match your values and strengthen your relationships. Learn how healthy boundaries can improve your mental and physical health, and how you can say “no” respectfully.;
Going through infertility tests and treatments can be an extremely difficult and lonely time for couples. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Lucas Mitzel talks about his own experience. He also shares tips for couples struggling with infertility, and for friends and family members who want to be supportive but don’t know what to say or do.;
In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn talks to Therapist Falan Johnson about panic attacks. What do they feel like? What causes them? How can you prevent or manage them? Listen now to learn more and discover techniques that might work for you or your loved one.;
Are you concerned about your child's mental health but aren't sure what to do? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, Therapist Jesse Lamm, as they discuss ways you can support your child through a difficult time.;
Are the stresses of college (constant worry, fitting in, lack of sleep, etc.) affecting your ability to function? Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, as they discuss ways to manage or eliminate the stressors that are impacting your well-being.;
Are you struggling to get enough sleep each night? Maybe you have difficulty falling and staying asleep. You can't get comfortable. You feel anxious and your brain just won't shut off. According to the Sleep Foundation, over one-third of adults in the U.S. sleep for less than seven hours a night. Join Host Tim Unsinn and his guest, April Morris, LCSW, in this episode of "Mind Your Mind," as they discuss how insomnia can affect many other areas of your life, as well as practical tips to improve your sleep hygiene.;
It's not unusual for children to have temper tantrums or for adolescents to be angry. But when they become out of proportion to the situation in intensity and duration, your child might be suffering from a mood disorder. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Host Tim Unsinn visits with Dr. Megan Spencer, a psychologist at Dakota Family Services. Listen now to learn how to distinguish between normal mood changes and mood disorders, and some steps you can take to help your child.;
Resilience is not a personality trait or characteristic. Resilience isn't ignoring or emotional numbing or pretending that a problem doesn't exist. And being resilient doesn’t mean we won’t face adversity. Rather, resilience is our ability to bounce back from adversity. In this episode of Mind Your Mind, Dr. Megan Spencer, psychologist at Dakota Family Services, shares ten ways to build resilience so you are ready when adversity strikes.;
You can probably think of a dozen things that make you feel sad. Sadness is a normal human emotion that helps us process the events in our lives. But what is "normal" sadness? When does sadness move from "normal" to something you may need help processing? In this episode of "Mind Your Mind," Falan Johnson, a therapist at Dakota Family Services, will answer these questions and more. Learn the importance of allowing yourself to feel sad so you can move past it, and, when it might be time to seek professional help.;