Around 35% of adults in the U.S. don’t get their required seven hours of sleep a day – a fact which is worrisome, since sleep deprivation is linked to serious physical and mental conditions, including heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Many alternative approaches have been sought for this problem, since prescription medication can become addictive and may lead to substance abuse or misuse. Sleep can often be caused by stress, blocked emotions, and other problems that can be addressed through art therapy.
Art Battles Stress
Art therapy is used in settings in which communication can be difficult – including eating disorder and substance abuse rehabilitation. This is because art can point out things that may not have been obvious to the person who has created it.
For instance, you may tell yourself that a personal or work relationship is okay, but when working alongside a therapist, you may discover thoughts or emotions you are repressing. Fighting or controlling these tough feelings leads to tension and stress. When we acknowledge them yet see them as powerless (because of their impermanence), we can begin to lower stress levels and find it easier to sleep at night without becoming overburdened by negative thought patterns.
The Science of Art Therapy and Stress
A fascinating study by researchers at Drexel University found that no matter what a person’s skill level is, taking time to make art is likely to reduce their stress hormone (cortisol) levels. In the study, 39 adults aged 18 to 59 were invited to simply create art for 45 minutes. Cortisol levels were measured before and after this session. Materials provided included markers, paper, clay, and material to make collages.
There were no directions given; everyone could create what they desired. The results showed that 75% of participants had significantly lower cortisol levels than when they started. Best of all, there was no relationship between a person’s level and the degree of stress reduction. In other words, even if you have never produced art before, if you are inspired, online tools such as free drawing tips will help you draw yourself and your world around you, while you enjoy powerful benefits for your mind and body.
Creativity and Sleep
A recent study carried out at the University of Haifa found that art therapy, combined with mindfulness stress reduction can result in major changes in brain activity, resulting in lower stress and anxiety. Both creativity and mindfulness go hand in hand, since both encourage us to face stress while obtaining a healthy enough distance from it so as to not feel overwhelmed.
Art can help you sleep better by addressing an important cause of many sleeping issues: stress. Combined with mindfulness, it can be a particularly powerful way of reducing stress hormone. If you would like to see what art can do for you, consult an online guide and learn the basics, or even make a collage expressing your doubts, fears, and hopes. Art wields its magic regardless of your ability; everyone has something to express.