How to Sleep Better During the Coronavirus Pandemic
According to data from sleep scientists and fitness devices, we have been experiencing a shift in our sleep patterns since the coronavirus pandemic started. Many people are reporting difficulties with falling asleep, with an increasing number of people seeking help for insomnia and an increase in prescription of insomnia medication. While data also shows that we are generally sleeping longer, many people are also reporting a decrease in quality of sleep due to interrupted sleep, and vivid, disturbing dreams.
With the impact of the coronavirus pandemic so far, it is no wonder that our sleep has been affected. What can we do then to improve our sleep during this period?
In this post, I will be sharing with you 5 things that you can do to sleep better:
01 | Maintain regular sleep and wake times
The first thing that you can do to improve your sleep is to maintain regular sleep and wake times. This is especially if you are struggling with insomnia and having difficulties falling asleep every night. Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day is important in syncing your circadian rhythm, which is the internal biological clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle.
With a consistent sleep and wake schedule, you will start finding yourself getting sleepy around your bedtime and waking up naturally around your set wake time as time goes.
02 | Obtain 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight exposure daily
The second tip is to have at least 15 to 30 minutes of sunlight exposure every day.
Now that we are spending most, if not all, of our time at home, it is easy for our circadian rhythms to go out of sync. This is because the reduced exposure to external cues such as naturally occurring sunlight, has an impact on regulating hormones related to wakefulness and sleepiness.
So, and especially if your home has low levels of natural light, go for a 15 to 30 minute walk outdoors after you wake up in the morning to get the sunlight exposure that your body needs, and this will make a great difference to improving your sleep.
03 | Avoid the use of screens 1 hour before bedtime
The third tip is to avoid the use of screens 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
According to sleep experts, interrupted or fragmented sleep often occurs when we are experiencing major stressors, and the current pandemic is definitely unprecedented in terms of its impact on our lives. Our brain processes information during sleep, and if our brain is going to be processing this additional stress, it may lead to more night time awakenings.
Therefore, to avoid increasing our stress and anxiety just before bedtime, it is important to disconnect from the constant flow of information on social media and news websites by simply refraining from using our screens before bedtime.
In addition, the blue light from our screens suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, which makes it difficult for us to fall asleep.
04 | Create a relaxing bedtime routine
For the same reason, the fourth thing that we can do to improve our sleep is to create a relaxing bedtime routine.
Set aside an hour or two before your bedtime to wind-down with activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. This could be having a cup of tea, reading a book, or listening to music. Incorporating practices such as meditation as part of your wind-down routine can also help improve the quality of your sleep by quieting the mind and body and reducing disrupted sleep.
To reduce stress and anxiety before bedtime, you can also find ways to park your stress as part of your wind-down routine, such as keeping a worry journal, or planning out the next day. That way, with any anxiety that comes up during bedtime, you can tell yourself that you will take care of it in the morning.
05 | Avoid daytime naps
The fifth and last tip is to avoid having daytime naps. Daytime naps can worsen existing sleep problems, while having long or frequent naps throughout the day can throw off your sleep cycle, making it difficult for you to fall asleep at night.
However, if you cannot resist having a nap in the middle of the day, keep the length of your nap short – no longer than 20 to 30 minutes, and preferably during the early afternoon before 3 p.m. A short nap will ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed instead of feeling groggy and disoriented, as you will be waking up during the first two stages of lighter sleep.
Here are more articles on coping during the coronavirus period:
- 6 Tips for Staying Healthy While Staying Home
- 22 Ideas for Self-Care While Staying At Home
- COVID-19 Mental Health Resources
What is the one thing that you would change to improve your sleep? Let me know down in the comments below.