COVID-19 has brought the world into uncharted waters.
Whole countries are on lockdown, the economy has ground to a (temporary) halt, and anxiety is through the roof.
With such unprecedented changes, it’s understandable that the importance of sleep is flying under the radar. But as we adjust to stay-at-home orders and try to remain healthy in a time of COVID-19, focusing on sleeping well offers tremendous benefits.
Whether you’ve had sleeping problems before COVID-19 or if they’ve only come on recently, there are concrete steps by way of The Sleeping Foundation that you can take to improve your sleep during this global pandemic.
Stop Working In Bed
When you're working from home, your bed doubles as a desk. And maybe a dinner table and a couch too. However, now that the workday has vanished, there are no boundaries anymore meaning people are working late into the evening and staying up too late.
Now it's more critical than ever to be strict about what you do between the sheets.
If you work in bed, you'll start to associate your bedroom with the stresses of the day. Use your mattress for sleep and sex only — suddenly, it'll be a much more relaxing place to be.
Get Some Exercise
Possibly the most annoying thing to hear when you're already would up – but you can't underestimate the importance of physical exercise.
Doing 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise will help you sleep better that very same night, reports Johns Hopkins Medicine. Walking, jogging, or doing a little HIIT circuit on your living room floor will get your heart rate up enough to make a difference.
And luckily, Instagram Live is filled with free workouts right now.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Have a glass of wine with dinner, but cut yourself after dessert.
Alcohol interferes with body's ability to regulate sleep, according to a study out of the University of Missouri-Columbia. It may feel like having a few drinks helps you doze off, but it reduces the quality of your sleep overall, so you'll wake up feeling tired.
"Additionally, alcohol is a diuretic, which increases your need to go the bathroom and causes you to wake up earlier in the morning," Pradeep Sahota, MD, chair of the MU School of Medicine's Department of Neurology, explained to ScienceDaily.
Try Out A Relaxation App
There are a million free options in the app store or on Youtube for anyone whose mind races as lights come out.
Look for mindfulness meditation specifically, which is proven to improve sleep quality, according to a study published in The JAMA Network Journals. The practice increases melatonin, the hormone that makes you drowsy.
Limit Your Screentime
Turn off anything that shines light directly into your eyes for 30 to 60 minutes before your desired bedtime, suggests the Sleep Foundation. That includes your phone, tablet, TV, and laptop.
Your body needs dim light to secrete melatonin. If you can't quit your pre-bed FaceTime or Instagram session, at least dim the screen as low as humanly possible, and hold it far away from your face.
Don't Overconsume News
If you refuse to give up screens, at least say goodbye to the news — especially before bed.
Yes, it's important to stay informed about what's happening around the world. But binging on coronavirus news before turning in could ratchet up your anxiety, according to Harvard Health Services. The result? Tossing and turning.
Talk To Someone
There's a huge relationship between mental health and sleep. People are feeling isolated and alone and maybe their mental health is not doing well, and insomnia is a symptom of that. It's important to look at it and be honest with ourselves.
If these tips don't help resolve your sleep issues, or if insomnia is something that you've had before and it's worsening, the Sleep Foundation recommends reaching out to your medical provider.
Sleep is important to your overall health and to your mental health, so staying on top of it is a must during quarantine.
Main image by @alexachung