10 Tips To Better Sleep During This Crazy Time
Mar 20, 2020
Last night I woke up at 2:00 AM and found myself wide awake, unable to get back to sleep. Like many people around the world, I am sure, sleep quality has been less than ideal lately. While perhaps sleep has been culturally back-burnered over the years next to work or school schedules, and our often overly scheduled lives, I suspect many of us who may now have ample time thanks to shelter-in-place orders, are seriously freaking the eff out.
It's kind of hard not to... My personal laundry list includes:
- fear of friends and family health (uhh all human survival) during this global pandemic
- losing my job.. yup.. contract cancelled for obvious reasons
- watching my brokerage account totally tank (which I'd been living off of from being out of work for the last year due to back surgery)
- wondering what life may be like with martial law in effect
- trying to make the choice between going back to work on the front lines of healthcare and risking my own health versus staying at home and having no income.
- a myriad of other variations and versions of the above...
But here's what I realized at 2AM... while my worries were running off with the dish and the spoon: while my feelings ARE real, it isn't serving me to let them take over my sleep. Intuitively, we know sleep restores and rejuvenates, but scientific evidence shows sleep is critical in improving immune function, memory , and reducing cardiovascular disease.
And for those of you who haven't seen the myriad of social media posts from the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers who are on the front lines working here's what they are saying:
I literally feel obligated as a physical therapist and life coach to try and help people figure out a way to not just avoid contracting COVID-19 during this time, but to also just simply stay healthy in a pretty dire and scary time. It's our duty for those who are on the frontlines to partake in extreme self care in order to try and stay as healthy as possible.
So here's a few tips to help get you back on track to getting some zzz's..
- Consider turning off all social media, news, TV, etc. at least 30 minutes before closing your eyes.
- If you find your mind wandering after you turn off the light, try taking 5 breaths slowly .. inhale and exhale, allowing yourself to only focus on the breath. If you get to the exhale on breath 2 and you noticed yourself replaying the news headlines in your head while exhaling, you have to start over.
- While ideally I'd say get your phone out of the bedroom, in this time, it may not be possible...at least silence calls or texts while you sleep.
- Try a meditation CD or App.. before bed Calm, Headspace, Etc.
- Try setting a fan or a noise machine for background white noise of your ears are ringing or your neighbors are keeping you up.
- Research from www.sleep.org suggests that the perfect sleeping temperature is 60-67 degrees F.
- If you find your thoughts coming back up or you just cannot seem to get to sleep after 20 minutes, don't fight it.. Get up, get a glass of water, turn on a light, grab a book, something...(other than turning on the news and checking Facebook).. laying there having anxiety that you can't get to sleep produces more anxiety.. and it just isn't helpful.
- Some supplements such as melatonin, calcium, or CBD can aide in facilitating sleep.
- Limit your caffeine intake after lunch.
- Rethink your beer/wine/alcohol intake during this time..(and I don't mean double it).
I used to joke around that 'ants can fart and I wake up'.. which to an extent still is true. I can imagine for most parents and caregivers that this rings true too. But.. caregiver exhaustion and immune system fatigue are real, and it's our job during this time to do the best we can to care for our own selves and stay well.
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