How To Sleep Better Despite Coronavirus Fears

The COVID-19 pandemic did not just affect our lives while awake, it has also disrupted our sleep quality. In fact, according to a recent survey of more than 900 Americans by the website, more than 1 in 5 people said their sleep quality has suffered since the rise of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

In spite of this, however, many of us still have the opportunity to control our behaviors and soften the impact of coronavirus on our sleep. More than ever, healthy sleep is important, helping you better navigate stressful situations, lowering the chances of developing sleeping problems and boosting your immune system in the long term. To help you sleep more comfortably and effectively amid an unprecedented global pandemic, the Harvard Health Blog has shared ways for you to sleep better despite coronavirus fears. Here are the following tips:

Daytime Tips

Maintain routine 

Get up at the same time every week. A regular sleeping schedule helps set your body's natural sleeping clock. In addition, stick to a regular schedule for meals, exercise and other activities.

Get morning light 

Get some morning light as soon as you wake up. Light controls the natural body clock, and regular exposure to light in the morning helps set your body clock each day. The best light to get every day is natural sunlight, which you can get even in cloudy days, since it provides double the intensity of indoor lighting. If you are living in an area with a built-in shelter, try exposing yourself to sunlight, away from others, for at least 20 minutes.

Exercise daily 

Daily exercise helps improve your sleep quality, reduces stress and improves your mood. Exercise as best as you can. If you have to go outside for exercise, maintain social distancing -- keep yourself six feet away from others. Avoid group exercises, especially contact sports.

Avoid staying in bed for too long 

The seriousness of the pandemic tires us all, but that is not an excuse to spend too much of your time in bed during the day, especially if you have trouble sleeping at night. If you must take a nap, keep it less than 30 minutes.

Avoid caffeine late in the day 

Coffee, tea and other beverages containing caffeine can negatively affect your sleep in the evening.

Help others 

Even if you are not working in an "essential" industry, you can contribute to the fight against coronavirus by at least maintaining physical distance from others. Contributing your skills, donating money, checking on your family/friends/peers via social media and other altruistic acts are some of the ways for you to be actively involved in helping people, providing a sense of purpose, reducing helplessness and alleviating uncertainty that can lead to sleeping problems.

Nighttime Tips

Avoid the news and using electronic devices

Avoid news and ALL electronics about an hour before bedtime. The nonstop news cycle provides new information in the evening hours that you cannot wait until morning to hear. Informative the news may be, the problem is it will likely stimulate your mind or incite fear, making it hard for you to fall and stay asleep. Setting a timer and/or putting your TV on the sleep setting can help you avoid unwanted stress associated with evening news.

Cellphones, tablets and other electronic devices make it harder for your brain to turn off, and their light, even when dimmed, can delay the release of the sleep-aiding hormone melatonin, interfering with your body clock. If you need something to watch to help you wind down, watching something relaxing on TV from a distance and outside your bedroom for a limited time can suffice. Alternatively, you can listen to music or read a book.

Minimize alcohol intake 

Alcohol is a double-edged sword. While it helps you fall asleep, it can lead to more sleeping problems at night.

Set bedtime schedule 

Your body sleeps better at certain hours at night. If you feel sleepy, yet your brain is busy thinking, it cannot shut off and go to sleep. One way to remedy this is by listing down your worries using a pen and paper before you sleep. You can then review what you listed in the morning and attend to any important concerns.

Reduce stress 

The evening and bedtime hours provide ample time to perform stress-reducing relaxation techniques such as slow-breathing or yoga.

Create a comfortable sleep environment 

Environment also plays a role in your sleeping habits. Specifically, you will sleep more effectively and comfortably if your room is cool, dark and quiet. 

Avoid spending too much time in bed 

Whether during the day or night hours, minimize spending time in bed in which you are not sleeping. If you are having trouble staying asleep or going to sleep, do not stay in bed for more than 20 minutes. Get out of bed and do a quiet activity such as reading a book or journal and folding laundries.

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