Creating healthy sleep habits through pandemic-related changes
For most of us, the pandemic means that our routines have changed across the board — sleep included. A 2021 study published in The Lancet found that the psychological distress that most of us have experienced in some form has had a negative impact on our sleep. On top of that, the changes to the way we live have also impacted our sleep patterns. From limiting your travel and working from your home to dealing with the implications of multiple lockdowns and isolation, many factors can contribute to why you’re having a tough time getting a good night’s sleep.
We may be over two years into the pandemic, but if you haven’t made a concentrated effort to establish a new sleep routine, you may be losing sleep or feeling unrested in the morning.
But what can you do? With these 7 sleep tips, you’ll be able to establish a brand new sleep routine and wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Our bodies crave routine, and sleep is no different:
- Set your internal clock by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
- When you do wake up, try to start your day as soon as possible using the daylight for motivation.
- Starting your routine earlier will signal your body to start building the drive for the next night’s sleep, which will pay off at bedtime.
Regular exercise is great for your mood, anxiety and healthy sleep patterns. Exercise helps your body build the drive for deep sleep. Try to time your exercise for earlier in the day (you may need to get creative during quarantine) and get your heart rate up when you do. Vigorous exercise too late in the day may leave you overly activated when bedtime rolls around.
Skip the nap
If you’re having a hard time sleeping at night, it might be time to skip the afternoon nap. While daytime naps can be great if you’re struggling to sleep these naps may be preventing you from feeling sleepy at bedtime and impact your regular routine.
Pay attention to your caffeine, alcohol or nicotine intake
All of these can interfere with your sleep if taken too close to bedtime.
Create a bedtime routine
We all need a buffer between our daytime activities and sleep time. Take 30 to 60 minutes to shift from daytime mode and set the stage for sleep. This is a good time to get off screens (the news included) and do something relaxing such as reading, stretching, meditating or having a hot shower/bath.
Reserve your bed for sleep
As much as you can, keep your sleeping space separate from your working or social space. Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleep. The same principle applies if you are having extended trouble falling asleep or are up in the night.
If you find yourself tossing and turning for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something calming or boring until you feel sleepy enough to return to bed.
And lastly… don’t sweat it!
Ever tried extra hard to fall asleep? If so, you probably noticed the harder you try, the tougher it becomes, the more anxious you feel, and so on. Watching the clock and doing mental calculations in the night are counterproductive for sleep.
Many of us are still adjusting to our new normal, but your body is designed to produce the sleep you need. Most sleep problems get better over time, especially if you stick to the tips above. So, give it a try and happy snoozing!
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