We can feel how a good night’s sleep improves our mood and energy levels, but it also serves another very important function in our bodies. During quality sleep, our immune systems build their defenses and destroy “foreign invaders.” In light of COVID-19, I’d like to empower you and your immune system with some tips on how to achieve restorative sleep.
Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can activate our fight or flight response making it challenging to turn our minds off for sleep. Therefore, it’s important to create a wind-down routine about 30 minutes to an hour before bed. This may involve taking a warm bath, drinking some chamomile tea, or meditating. Find something that relaxes you* and try to be consistent with it. The brain likes routines.
*Keep in mind that alcohol and drugs can significantly disrupt the quality of your sleep even if they help you get to sleep.
Make sure your bedroom is dark, cold, and quiet. Light and noise blocking curtains, ear plugs, eye masks, fans, and/or calming sound machines can be game changers.
It’s a good idea to avoid screen time before bed. Not only will this help to reduce anxiety caused by social media and news, but blue light also signals our brain to stay awake. On that note, make sure to mute your phone before bed so you’re not getting 2 am updates!
Many of us are working from home as a result of COVID-19, but try not to use your bed as your new office space. The brain associates various thoughts and feelings with places, so working from your bed may train your brain to think about work instead of relaxing. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex.
Exercise helps your brain to achieve deep, restful sleep. Maybe try replacing your commute time with physical activity. It’s also a great way to connect with your family, especially if little ones at home need to burn some extra energy!
Getting outside replenishes Vitamin D (important for immunity) and provides you the opportunity to connect with nature. Our circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles) are regulated by exposure to light and darkness.
If you’re struggling to sleep despite taking these measures or if you’ve gone weeks without quality sleep, medications may help. We can collaborate to create a plan that addresses your needs whether you’re having difficulties getting to sleep, staying asleep, waking up, or feeling tired all the time. There are many safe medication options that can be used on an as-needed basis or for a short time until you’re sleeping soundly again.