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KEY TO A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

Nov 29, 2008

Facing one’s fears is a healthy way of coping: one way to do this is to sit down with and think about your problems.

 

Is something bothering you? Do not hold it in. Write it down. Researchers have found that writing about events in your life that are causing you anxiety can lead to fewer doctor visits, better sleep and an enhanced immune system.

 

The concept is called expressive writing. The subject of what you right is not always easy to face. It could be a diagnosis of a disease, it could be the death of somebody or things they worry about too much or obsess about, said James Pennebaker, chairman of the psychology Department at the University of Texas.

 

Pennebaker has done extensive research on the health benefits of expressive writing. Pennebaker explained that facing our fears is a form of healthy coping. And the more difficult the experience you write about, the better the health outcomes may be.

 

Pennebaker’s research has shown that blood pressure drops after the disclosure of traumatic topics but not superficial ones. The results of writing about what is bothering you can also help ease one of the biggest health complaints of older people: not getting a good night’s sleep.

 

Very often, people toss and turn, especially older people, because they are having problems with their kids, with money, with health, Pennebaker said.

 

Simply by writing about issues that are bothering them, they sleep better.

 

And, as Pennebaker pointed out, a good night’s sleep is associated with increased immune functions and an overall improvement in both physical and emotional well being.

 

What you write about is as individual as you are. We all have a sense of what’s bugging us, Pennebaker elaborated. While some of the topics may make you angry, you will find that as you write, it’s an exercise of the heart and not just the spleen.

 

Almost all events that we’ve had, had both positive and negative sides to them, he added.

 

It’s important to pay attention to the entire experience. You can record your feelings using a word processor or pen and paper. But the old-fashioned manuscript may be more beneficial than a high-tech blog. Writing with pen and paper is probably better than typing because it slows the process down, Pennebaker explained. You’re forced to think more.

 

And what do you do with your text once you are finished? Shred, burn or delete it. Pennebaker said the expressive writing is expressly for you. It should not be shown to anyone else. If you going to show it to anyone else, you are going to change the story a little bit, he said. You might be trying to justify yourself, make another person look good or bad, or not hurt their feelings.“ Los Angeles Times.

 

By: Peter King from New York.

This article appeared in the The Star newspaper

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