Improving Sleep in the Era of COVID-19
The anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has made getting a good night’s sleep more difficult for many people. You may be concerned about your financial stability, your physical health, or the uncertain state of the world. Massage therapy can help you get more sleep and better quality sleep but in the meantime, while you can’t visit your RMT right now, there are some things you can do to get into a better sleeping routine.
How much sleep?
It’s important to keep in mind how much sleep you actually need. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, but a lot of people don’t get that much sleep even under normal circumstances. Lack of sleep can decrease your quality of life and negatively impact your daytime functioning.
There are some things you can do to get some more sleep or improve your sleep quality, This is known as improving your sleep hygiene.
Try to develop a fairly consistent schedule where you get up and go to sleep at the same time every day. You should also try to get exposure to bright sunlight for at least one hour every morning, whether that’s through a balcony, a backyard, or a walk outdoors (keeping a safe distance). This will help your body recognize when it’s time to wake up vs. when it’s time to go to sleep.
You should also have as much separation as possible between your sleeping space, your working space, and your entertainment/leisure space. This will make sure you begin to associate being in bed with going to sleep.
Your nighttime routine should also remain fairly consistent, whether it includes changing into pajamas, washing your face, brushing your teeth, or anything else you’d normally do before bed. Continuing to do whatever it is you normally do at night is another thing that will signal to you that it is time for bed.
Don’t nap too much
Whether you’re working from home or trying to suddenly fill a lot of new free time, it can be tempting to sneak in a quick afternoon nap, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping at night. Just make sure not to nap too much. Too much napping can make you feel sleepier during the day and disrupt a regular sleeping routine.
The ideal amount of napping will vary from person to person, but usually 30 minutes to an hour per day would be best for many people. Any change in your napping habits is what might make it harder to sleep through the night.
Although physical distancing may have closed your gym and limited the ways you may have previously exercised, it’s important to find ways to continue to exercise and keep physically active at home.
Exerting ourselves makes us feel more tired, and it will give you a sense of accomplishment for the day which can also make it easier to sleep. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime, because the stimulation of exercise can make it harder to fall asleep.
Your news intake
The news about COVID-19 is being released 24/7 and can be quite upsetting. The constant barrage of news can ratchet up your stress and anxiety and make it even more difficult to sleep.
At the same time, you want to remain informed. One way you can make things a little easier and less likely to disrupt your sleep is to limit the amounts of times per day you check the news on your phone, and limit how long you’ll read news about the pandemic per day. If you’re finding the news is increasing your stress level, try not to read it before bed.
The internet and all of the virtual technologies we have available have made it much easier to stay connected with our friends and family that we can’t see physically. Although staying in touch virtually with our friends and family is essential, all of that screen time can make it harder to fall asleep.
It is recommended that you try to not look at any screens for one hour before bedtime, and trying something like reading a book as entertainment before bed.
What you eat and drink
Alcohol is not considered a healthy coping mechanism for stress and anxiety, and excessive alcohol consumption as well as lack of sleep can negatively impact your quality of life.
Although it may feel like alcohol will help you get to sleep, your sleep quality after you’ve been drinking won’t be as restful or high-quality.
Try to avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, which includes coffee, tea, many types of pop and chocolate.
Sleep is important
Not getting adequate sleep can have negative effects on your physical, emotional and mental health. In our previously hectic day-to-day lives, sleep often wasn’t high on the priority list. The disruption to our old routine and the constant news about the COVID-19 pandemic can make it ever harder to get a good night’s sleep. However, now that we have more time on our hands, we can take the time to make getting enough sleep a priority.