Getting Good Sleep in the Coronavirus Pandemic
During the coronavirus pandemic, many people are suffering from insomnia and just can’t sleep. In this case, it is probably related to increased stress but may have other causes.
But did you know that not getting good sleep can lower your immune system, making it harder to fend off viruses and other germs? We have some tips on how to get good sleep and why it is so vital.
Causes of Insomnia During the Coronavirus
A number of factors contribute to people being up at night.
We are worried and anxious about our health and family members, especially those who have underlying conditions that may put them at higher risk.
Essential workers are experiencing stress, while they put themselves (and, in turn, their families) at greater risk for contracting the virus. Often they are working at jobs that may be more difficult to perform now because of social distancing or other virus prevention measures.
But being home, due to working from home or unemployment, is by no means stress free. Many parents must manage the homeschooling of kids during the crisis. And spending an extended period of time with your family without breaks or buffers may cause stress. Money problems may be impacting your life right now and causing more worry than usual.
Just as there are many reasons for stress, there are many ways to combat stress, including mindfulness activities and physical exercise.
Being home during the day or having other family members home will change our routines. And not having a routine can cause trouble sleeping. Creating a daily routine will go a long way in adjusting to the new (temporary) way of life and getting good sleep.
Lack of Light
Because we are spending more time indoors than we used to, we also may not be getting the amount of sunlight our bodies are used to. Light tells our bodies when to be awake and when to sleep, and the lack of light may confuse our bodies. Be sure to open the blinds and get outside regularly during the daylight hours.
Why Good Sleep Matters
- Getting a good night’s sleep can boost our immune system. Studies have found that not getting good sleep can make some vaccines not work effectively.
- Your mood will be more even and less irritable when you have gotten a good night’s sleep. Lack of sleep can decrease your energy levels.
- If you are managing a mental health condition, know that a lack of sleep can cause depression or make feelings of depression worse. It has been linked with anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder.
- Good sleep can help our minds work better. Tasks like complex thinking, learning, memory and decision making are easier when you are well rested.
How to Sleep Better
One of the most important things you can do to get good sleep is to set and keep a regular sleep schedule. Get at least 7 hours of sleep by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends and holidays.
Additionally, you should follow a bedtime routine that could include a relaxing bath or shower, reading a book, listening to relaxing music or nature sounds, doing a short meditation or gentle yoga. These should be calm and quiet self-care tools. A bedtime routine is also important for getting children to sleep.
You should limit your exposure to light while you are getting ready for bed. This light includes digital devices like cell phones, televisions, tablets, video games and computers. They should be turned off a minimum of 30 minutes before bedtime. While you are practicing your bedtime routine, do it in low lighting when possible. Additionally, you should avoid reading or watching TV in your bedroom.
Your bedroom should be a peaceful sanctuary, used only for sleep and intimate encounters. This trains your brain to start feeling relaxed when you enter it. The room should be comfortable, quiet and dark. Additionally, having clean sheets, pillowcases and other linens can go a long way to helping you rest. Some people find a spritz of lavender or other relaxing essential oils help the room feel more restful.
Avoid eating a large meal or drinking right before bed. When your body is busy digesting, it can be hard to fall asleep. Lying down flat after a big meal can also cause indigestion and heartburn, which will keep you awake and feeling uncomfortable. If you must eat something, make it a small, high protein snack. Keep drinking to a minimum in the evening — this includes all liquids ranging from water to alcohol. If you drink a lot after 6 pm, you are more likely to need to get up during the night to go to the bathroom.
You should also turn down caffeinated drinks and treats like coffee, black tea and chocolate late in the day to avoid extra stimulation that may keep you from sleeping.