Our global world is changing. Getting through this challenging time requires adaptation to change and perseverance through these challenges. This is difficult to do, so take special care of yourself along the way. Self-care means attending to your diet, exercising, socializing, and sleep. However, sleep may be particularly difficult during this time. Below are a few methods that contribute to better sleep.
Your bed should be be exclusively used for sleeping or sex. It is likely that working from home has caused shifts in how you use your rooms and furniture, especially if you do not have a home office and you are sharing your space with your partner and/or children who are also home. It may contribute to individuals using their bed for other activities like work, watching tv or lounging, homework, etc. If you are restricted to completing activities from your bedroom, use furniture other than your bed. Consider getting a desk for work or homework or getting a chair to watch tv and lounge.
Do not intake news media 1-2 hours before bed. With the ever changing updates on COVID-19, it may seem necessary to consult news media nonstop throughout the day. However, this may be increasing distress symptoms by flooding you with information that is largely out of your control. Consider titrating your consumption of news media so it is intentional and informative (ex. two times from a trusted source in the afternoon). This is particularly important before sleep, when you are, arguably, most vulnerable to the collected stresses of your daily experience. Taking in news media 1-2 hours before bed can trigger distressing symptoms of anxiety and depression (racing thoughts, rumination, worry, hopelessness, sadness, anger) that may make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, and/or nightmares.
Avoid electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime. With an increasing dependency on technology, more adults and children find it difficult to put down their cell phones and not engage in social media, email checking, or online games. This can impact sleep because technology like laptops, phones, video games, and computers stimulate your brain and make it difficult to fall asleep. Having your phone under your pillow or on your bedside may increase the likelihood that you check your phone compulsively during the night, or that phone alerts take you out of deep sleep leaving you fatigued during the day, or you stay awake and stimulated on various phone applications. To maximize sleep, consider disengaging from electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime and, even, charging your phone outside of your immediate sleeping area to minimize sleep disruption.
Have a consistent bed time routine. Routine is a good way to teach your mind and body what to expect next and sleep is no different. Devise a soothing bedtime routine that you regularly engage that sets the expectation that you are winding down your day and preparing for sleep. This can include a grooming regimen, changing clothing, a shower or bath, soothing music, relaxing scents, and/or reading before bed to name a few.
Sleep is a very important part of overall physical and mental wellness, which are important elements of self-care during this COVID-19 pandemic. If you are having difficulty sleeping, you are not alone, a lot of people are having the same experience. As you work on changing your sleep experience, be patient- it. will. take. time. Be cautious of excuses like “I don’t have time”. Make time, because that is part of the process of sleep improvement. Give these methods a try for a week and see if it impacts your sleep. You can also research “sleep hygiene” for additional physiological considerations for managing your sleep.