The onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lock-down measures has left most of us struggling to come to terms with the new normal. With all of the fear and uncertainty about the future, sleep may seem like something trivial, but it’s not. Sleep is vital for good health and strong immune function, which is why getting adequate sleep is one of the top recommendations to stay safe from the coronavirus. Of course, getting your sleep cycle back on track can seem impossible when your life is in a state of chaos. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to reinforce your sleep cycle and get quality sleep.
5 Tips to Reclaim Your Sleep During the Lock-down
1. Cultivate a Sleep Routine
The coronavirus pandemic and lock-down measures have caused a huge disruption to our lives. To many of us, this lack of order and routine has thrown our lives into chaos. While some amount of flexibility is healthy, your body does need a routine. This may actually be a good time to reinforce your circadian rhythm, by cultivating a regular bedtime routine. Make it a point to wind down every day at roughly the same time so that your body gets conditioned to a specific sleep time. Instead of setting alarms to wake up, set alarms to get ready for bed.
2. Turn Out the Lights
Exposure to artificial lighting when it’s dark outside can mess with your circadian rhythm, disrupting the sleep cycle. When trying to adopt a sleep routine it’s all the more important to avoid exposure to bright and artificial lighting for a couple of hours before bedtime. Simply dim your lights every evening. This also means giving up the nightly read on your Kindle or watching reruns of your favorite sitcoms. Blue light from these devices has a stimulating effect that suppresses melatonin and impairs sleep quality.
3. Get Out of Bed
Whether you’re working from home or are furloughed, it can be tempting to spend most of the day reclined in bed. Unfortunately, the more time you spend in bed, the more likely you are to have difficulty sleeping at night as your brain starts to associate the space with work or entertainment. Spending less time in bed will actually reinforce the connection between sleep and your bedroom, making it easier to drift off when you climb into bed.
4. Stop Napping
While it’s nice to be able to enjoy an afternoon siesta and the slower pace of life during the lock-down, this might not be the best idea. If you’re trying to get your sleep cycle back on track, daytime napping or sleeping is the worst thing you can do as an adult. This will only increase the disruption to your circadian rhythm making it harder to maintain a healthy sleep routine. If you need a nap to energize or cope with poor quality sleep the night before, make sure to nap for no more than 25 minutes.
5. Adopt Sleep Rituals
Sleep rituals can help prepare your mind for sleep and should be a part of any daily routine to improve sleep quality. Sleep rituals like meditation and other relaxing activities are even more important now during the lock-down because of our higher stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, exercise is known to improve sleep quality, especially if you workout early in the evening. Just avoid late evening workouts. Likewise, a hot soak a couple of hours before bedtime has also been found to improve sleep quality.
Whatever tips you use to get your sleep cycle back on track, make sure to be consistent daily, this is one of the most important factors when it comes to routines.