They include everything from turning on a fan to avoid easily waking up and how many times a week to wash the sheets, to how long before unplugging.
Many people now spend the night tossing and turning, struggling to shake off the constant stream of bad news about the coronavirus, fires, and financial woes.
But, while there is no trick that makes us impervious to disease, we do know that sleep is key to helping our bodies stay healthy. “Sleep is an essential part of protection and response to any infection,” said Douglas Kirsch, a neurologist and former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. But even so, he understands us: “Sleeping is difficult when anxiety levels are high, as in the case of a pandemic.”
There are some answers to the question of what we can do now to get more sleep. We may not like them.
The more regular our wake-up time, the more regular our body functions.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends sticking to a sleep schedule, and here’s an easy way to do it: Let’s set a invariable time to go to bed. Let’s combine that with a set time to wake up. (Since many are not currently traveling, this might be easier than normal.) Let’s set ourselves up for success by doing little things: let’s use blackout curtains if we sleep while it’s light, also earplugs or a mask for sleeping.
Whatever we do, make the bedroom very comfortable and Very dark.
Do we wake up easily? Let’s use a fan or a theme repeated on Spotify as white noise.
However, if we are tired, let us sleep while we can. “If you are tired during the day, rest at that moment“said Janet Mullington, a professor in the department of neurology at Harvard Medical School.
Let’s not let naps ruin our schedule. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist who specializes in the relationship between behavior and sleep, said that the ideal length of naps is 10 to 20 minutes.
Let’s keep our schedule with the help of a strict electronic curfew: try to have 90 minutes without social media, email and even television before the lights go out, Breus said.
“You may find it tempting to stay up late watching your favorite shows because you don’t have to go to work in the morning, but it’s more important than ever. prioritize sleep“said Kristen Knutson, associate professor at the Center for Sleep and Circadian Medicine at Northwestern University.
If we can’t do 90 minutes, let’s start with 15. Also, we probably won’t watch the movie “Contagion.”
Let’s also limit the consumption of media, avoiding in particular at night things that increase anxiety. This may be the toughest but most sensible advice: “Just watch the news about the coronavirus once a day, preferably not close to bedtime, “Kirsch said.
Mute notifications on the phone could also be helpful. The phone can be configured to automatically silence notifications at night, scheduling do-not-disturb times.
“Isolation can further increase the desire to be connected electronically,” said Lisa Medalie, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the University of Chicago, adding that maintaining discipline is vital because it helps minimize distractions and regain control.
The time before bed can also be used to ward off fears, as part of putting order in the day. “Setting action plans for the day, for both children and adults, can help alleviate some of that uncertainty,” Kirsch said. “We tend to keep anxiety suppressed and this explodes in the dark. Try to clear the mental closet beforehand. “