Sleeping better in the new normal
By Adesuwa Ewoigbokhan
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a source of stress to a lot of people. And with stress, people react differently. It is very vital that one uses self-care and self-compassion to promote one’s well being.
The outbreak of the pandemic, created a climate of anxiety, which can easily lead to insomnia even in people who hardly suffer from it on a good day.
As you are very much aware, in periods of crisis, restlessness or even sleepless nights become the order of the day as you may lie awake in bed worrying, or having trouble turning off the constant stream of 24/7 news report.
Furthermore, poor sleep can gradually put you at risk since lack of it whether or not is caused by a physiological or behavioural disorder, can increase obesity, reduces immunity, impairs business performance, memory and a lot of other functions.
A number of people regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to unglue from the constant scroll of covid-19. There may be no body to make you impervious to the touch of the virus and knowing that sleep is a key to helping your body stay healthy, makes ‘’sleep an essential part of protection from and response to any infection” said Douglas B. Kirsch, a Neurologist and former President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. ‘’Sleep is hard when anxiety levels are high, such as in the case of pandemic.’’
It’s possible you have been having sleep problem before the pandemic: But if it only just started, there are concrete tips that you can take to improve your sleep during this global era of covid-19.
This will require making simple adjustment to your day time routine and bed time habits can have a deep effect on how well you sleep.
A very good night’s sleep might seem like an impossible goal, what you don’t know is that you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize.
The way you feel during your waking hours, often, determines how well you sleep at night. So, the remedy for sleep difficulties is often found in your daily routine.
Know that, unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle A choices are what usually leave you restless at night. This adversely affects your mood, brain, heart, health, immune system, creativity and vitality.
Think about what might cause you a good night’s sleep; from work stress and family issues to unexpected challenges such as sicknesses. No wonder falling asleep can be elusive. You might not be able to control the factor that gets in the way of your sleep, but you can adopt habits that encourage better sleep.
Experiment with the following steps to find the ones that work best for you, in order to enjoy better sleep at night.
*Try and avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of the covid-19 and make time to unwind and tell yourself that strong feelings will fade away. Keeping in sync with your body’s natural sleep cycle is one of the most important strategies for having a better sleep. When you observe a regular sleep and wake schedule, you will feel refreshed and energized compared to when you sleep the same number of hours at different times, even if you alter your sleep schedule by few hours.
Try sleeping and waking up at the same time on a daily basis, as this helps to set your body’s internal clock and optimize the quality of your sleep. If you are getting enough sleep, you will naturally wake up without alarm clock. If you need alarm clock that means you need an earlier bed time.
The more your weekend and weekday sleep schedules differ, the worse the jetlag – like symptoms you will experience. If you have to make up for a lost night, opt for a daytime napping rather than sleeping in, this allows you to offset your sleep debt without interfering with your natural sleep wake rhythm.
If you get sleepy before bedtime, get engaged in something gently stimulating such as washing plates, or getting clothes ready for the next day. If you decide to give in to your drowsiness, you may wake up later in the night and have problem getting to sleep.
Control your exposure to light. Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure, which helps in regulating your sleep and wake up cycle. Your brain secretes more of this when it is dark thus, making you sleepy. And when it is less, this keep you alert.
As such, you expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning, and spend more time outside during the day time.
*Keep curtains and blinds open during the day and at night, avoid bright screens within one to two hours of your bedtime.
*Say no to television and listening to soothing music or audio books instead.
*When it is finally time to sleep, make sure the room is dark or keep the light down, this you can do by using heavy curtains to block out light from the windows.
*Indulge in calming activities such as taking a bath.
* Learn how to get back to sleep as it is only natural to wake up briefly during the night.
*Make sure to exercise during the day, as people who indulged in this activity frequently sleep better at night, and feel less sleepy during the day. Regular workouts improve the symptoms of insomnia, and increases the amount of time spent in the deep restorative storages of sleep.
*Practice relaxation techniques before sleeping, it is a powerful way to wind down, calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep.
*Watch what you eat and drink, your daytime eating habits have a role to play in how you sleep, especially hours before sleeping.
*Limit intake of caffeine and smoking as these stimulants can disrupt sleep. When close to bedtime, cut down sugary and refined foods.
*Never go to sleep hungry or stuffed. Avoid heavy meals within couple of hours before bedtime. Your discomfort may keep you awake. Alcohol, caffeine and nicotine need to be checked as the stimulating effect takes hours to wear off, in the process, wrecking the quality of your sleep and may also result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night.
*Limit daytime nap. Spending several hours on daytime napping can interfere with night’s sleep. If you have to nap, reduce yourself to up to 30 minutes and should not be done late in the day. When you work at night, you may need to nap late in the day to make up your sleep debt.
*Try managing stress by resolving your worries before going to bed. Write down what is on your mind and set it aside for next day. Stress management might help, start with the basics like getting organized, set your priorities and delegate tasks.
Know when to check with your family doctor as almost everybody has an occasional sleepless night. So contact your doctor if it is getting too frequent. Identify and treat the underlying root cause. This can help get the better sleep you deserve.
Sleep in varying positions, changing your sleeping positions can make a very big difference in the quality of your sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night, make a conscious effort to follow this guide lines until it becomes habitual.
Make sure to keep your body in a ‘mid-line’ position where both your head and neck are kept roughly straight.
This should help with your slumber and don’t lie on your stomach as it can be difficult to maintain the proper position, and be sure to use a suitable pillow. Try placing a pillow between your legs if you sleep on side and a pillow under your legs if you sleep on your back.
*If possible, avoid sleeping pills, the easy solution is the one that carries the most risk. Prolonged use of sleep aids such as benzodiazepines or anxiolytic without the directives of an health care can affect one. It is always better to adopt a healthy lifestyle than to depend on medication both in normal situation and during confinement due to corona virus.
*You have to sleep well to be able to work effectively. A a sound sleep results in increased energy, productivity, improved heart, immune system health, a better mood and even a longer life. So much improved by eating healthy, having fun, taking care of loved ones and after a satisfying eight hours of rest.