The Importance of Sleep During a Pandemic
The coronavirus has created new stresses into our lives through stay at home orders, the declining economy and health and safety concerns. With these unprecedented events occurring all at the same time, (and so quickly) it’s not surprising that we have heard from many of our clients and candidates alike expressing issues with their sleep patterns and insomnia.
Whether you have had sleeping problems before COVID-19 or if they have only come on recently, there are concrete steps that you can take to improve your sleep during this global pandemic:
Establish a routine: This facilitates a sense of normalcy even in abnormal times. It is easier for your mind and body to acclimate to a consistent sleep schedule, which is why health experts have long recommended avoiding major variation in your daily sleep times.
Reserve your bed for sleeping: This means no laptop, iPad, or phone in your bed. Additionally, if you have a hard time falling asleep get out of bed and do something relaxing in very low light, and then head back to bed to try to fall asleep. Make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep, too. Keep the room temperature cool, try an eye mask or blackout shades, and use a white noise machine to block extraneous noise from the street or the hallway.
Sunlight, sunlight, sunlight: Exposure to light plays a crucial role in helping our bodies regulate sleep in a healthy way. If you can, spend some time outside in natural light. As much as possible, open windows and blinds to let light into your home during the day.
Limit blue light exposure near bedtime: Sorry, but again this means no phone and laptop an hour before you want to be sleeping. Instead, read a book or listen to music or a podcast.
Nap with care: While a short power nap early in the afternoon can be useful to some people, it is best to avoid long naps or naps later in the day that can hinder nighttime sleep.
Utilize relaxation techniques: Finding ways to relax can be a potent tool in improving your sleep. Try taking slow deep breaths, slowly inhale through your nose and then a slow exhale through your mouth. Look for mindfulness meditation, calming music, and quiet reading are just a few examples that are easy, free, and quick.
Watch what you drink: We all know to avoid caffeine late at night, but alcohol can also disrupt the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Regulate your news (read: stress-intake): Be diligent in limiting how many times per day you subject yourself to news related to the pandemic. If you do watch the news, look for positive stories, such as how people are supporting one another through the pandemic.
Contact Your Doctor if Necessary: If your sleep pattern does not improve, it is ok to check in with your doctor. Many doctors are now using email or telemedicine to allow patients to discuss concerns without having to physically visit their office.
It can be difficult to adjust to our new realities but while sleep is important, try not to worry about it. Instead, just do your best to get to bed on time and follow these tips.