Sleep Better in These Stressful Times

It’s not news to say that many people around the U.S. and elsewhere in the world are stressed out right now.  With COVID-19 spreading across the globe, if you don’t have the virus you’re likely concerned that you or a family member might get it.  All of that stress is definitely not good for sleep.  Here are some tips to help you sleep better during these trying times.

Turn off your screens

Whether you read the news on your smartphone or computer, or watch the news on your television, you should turn it off or at least change the channel about an hour before bed.  If news about the pandemic is keeping you from sleeping, avoiding it and distracting your mind with something else is one of the best things you can do.  

Read a book

As we all socially distance and work from home this is a great time to get caught up in a book, particularly right before bed.  Reading something calm for at least a half hour before turning off the lights will help distract your brain.  Also, it’s best to not read on your smartphone or computer, as the light from the screens may tell your brain it’s time to wake up.  An old fashioned paper book is best.  Make sure you’re reading to your kids, too!

Cut back on alcohol

Some people have seen their alcohol intake increase during the stay-at-home orders.  While it can relax you and may even help you get to sleep, that sleep will not be as productive for a variety of reasons.  It’s best to avoid alcohol for at least an hour before bedtime.

Keep your routine

It’s very easy to find your sleep routine disintegrate during these times when our lives aren’t as structured.  This “sleep anarchy” is one of the worst things you can do, because your body thrives on structure.  Even if you aren’t going to bed and getting up at the same time as when you had to leave your home for work, find a pattern and stick reasonably close to it.

Take a warm bath

If you find that you’re tossing and turning more than usual, try taking a warm (not hot) bath right before bed.  Research has found that a warm bath (a shower also works) between 104-109 degrees Fahrenheit can help people fall asleep about 10 minutes faster.