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Sleep and a Healthy Mind

InShape New MindMatters


PhotoCredit: Andrew Roberts 2008 – Sleeping:

Zoe Markopoulos -Psychologist (MAPS, CEDP)

Sleep is vital to your health. Not only is our daily functioning compromised when we have a lack of sleep, but it can also lead to long-term health problems.

What Defines Sleep?

Sleep is not a fixed state of consciousness, as the brain moves through distinct stages of sleep repeatedly every night. The two broad categories of sleep are Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM). REM sleep occurs approximately once every 90 to 120 minutes, comprises one-quarter of our nightly sleep and is where most dreams tend to happen. While NREM sleep is collectively sleep stages 1-3. Each stage has distinct characteristics, for example, drowsiness in stage 1 and relaxation of muscles in stage 3.

How to Overcome Common Sleep Problems

Sleep problems are common in today’s busy world, as sleep is often one of the first areas often neglected. Healthy sleep habits referred to as good sleep hygiene, are mostly common sense. But we often do not actively think about them. Good sleep hygiene can involve:

  • Following a sleep schedule of the same bed and wake time to help regulate your body’s clock.
  • Practicing a relax bedtime ritual to help separate your sleep time from activities that cause excitement or stress.
  • Avoiding going to bed on a full stomach, but not hungry either.
  • Going to another room if you are not asleep after 20 minutes in bed, until you feel tired again and then go back to bed.
  • Evaluating your room (e.g. removing distractions like a TV, ensuring the temperature is cool and free from any light or noise).
  • Getting sunlight during the day.
  • Obtaining 7-9 hours of sleep a day.
  • Avoiding naps, especially in the afternoon.
  • Exercising daily, at any time but not at the expense of your sleep.
  • Sleeping on a comfortable mattress and pillow.

Image - Z MarkopoulosIn her professional practice, Zoe Markopoulos applies her psychological and educational expertise in the effective delivery of psychology services to children and families. She recognises the importance of fostering resilience and addressing the social, emotional and educational needs of students. Zoe predominately aligns her work with the principles and techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy, positive psychology and mindfulness. A significant part of her work involves psychological counselling and assessment, developing and implementing evidence-based programs, and consultation. Zoe is also interested in self-care activities to help maintain physical, mental and emotional health.

Zoe has contributed to academic publications focused on coping, bullying, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, children and families. She is a member of the Australian Psychologist Society and is regularly involved with the College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists (Victoria), as a committee member. Zoe is currently completing the Psychology Board of Australia Registrar Program in Educational and Developmental Psychology.


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