The COVID-19 pandemic has completely interrupted our day-to-day lives, which can place a lot of strain on our mental well-being. Watching the news can be anxiety-inducing because it is all doom and gloom with COVID-19 dominating the headlines. It isn’t something we can escape and as a result, we lose out on sleep. The pandemic has heightened stress and damaged our sleep, leading to what experts are now calling “coronasomnia.”
Just as we would approach insomnia and other sleeping conditions, it is important that you take proactive measures to eliminate coronasomnia.
Stick to a daily routine
Just because you may be working from home, it doesn’t mean routine and schedule should go to the wayside. It means we have to try harder to stick to a routine and maintain a normal life even though we are in the middle of a pandemic.
Make sure you wake up at the same time every morning. This will help stabilize your circadian rhythm. Additionally, when you get up at the same time every day, it can help you become more tired at night when you need it, getting you back on track that evening with sleep.
Find time to wind down
About an hour before you head to bed, it’s time to wind down. Find a place, other than your bedroom, to begin a relaxing routine. Dim the lights and engage in non-stimulating activity. This might include watching reruns of your favorite shows or reading a book. Try to stay away from reading or watching the news to prevent added stress and anxiety.
Another option is to try deep breathing exercises or yoga to unwind and relax before heading to bed. There are a lot of options to choose from on YouTube for free that can help. You can also try a guided meditation or relaxation app like Headspace to help as well.
Minimize use of electronics
We’re not saying abandon all electronics. We’re just recommending that you avoid electronics before heading to bed. It might seem like a good way to wind down, laying in bed mindlessly scrolling through social media or watching Netflix on your computer, but it is not. Evidence shows that the blue light can negatively impact your circadian rhythm, keeping you up when you should be tired.
Instead of scrolling through your phone, try reading a book or listening to calming music. You can watch a movie, but keep the TV across the room and try not to stay up watching the movie or show. Limit that time as well. End of the day, keeping those electronics off is key.
Create an ideal sleeping environment
When getting your room ready for bed, try to keep it dark. The temperature should be between 65 and 70 degrees. These are often the perfect sleeping conditions because when a room is on the cooler side, it tends to be ideal for restful sleep.
Keep in mind though, if you shower or take a bath before bed, skip the scolding hot temperatures. That is because when you take a really hot bath or shower before bed, it can increase your core body temperature and make it hard to sleep
Exercise in the morning or afternoon
Cardio exercises raise your core body temperature. When you are deciding when to exercise, keep it to the morning or afternoon. Exercising within three hours before bedtime can add to your restlessness and keep you up at night.
All you need is a minimum of 30 minutes in the afternoon to get a good workout in. This can also add to feeling tired at night. Keep moving and keep going until then.
Skip that late night meal
We have all been swamped and found that we lose track of time throughout the day. One minute it is 10 a.m. and the next it is 7 p.m. but you still haven’t had dinner. Try to avoid this. The later you have a large meal, the harder it will be to sleep.
However, if you are prone to wake up because you’re hungry, a light snack won’t hurt. But don’t make it a habit. Try a small portion of crackers, fruit or cheese.
Pay attention to caffeine and alcohol intake
You wake up, you pour yourself a cup of coffee. As the day goes on, you might have another cup or two if you are still tired. Remember this: caffeine can stay in your body for eight hours. That is longer than most realize. Try to cut off caffeine intake around 2 p.m.
Additionally, while having that glass of wine or beer might make you feel tired, it doesn’t help you sleep. It can actually wake you up as it is metabolized in the middle of the night. Often, alcohol leads to fragmented sleep, which is why you wake up even more tired. Try to avoid it within three hours of bedtime.
While coronasomnia will not last forever, it is important to find ways to minimize it now while you can. It is also important to visit Dr. Patel at Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia to learn more about sleep apnea and see if that might be contributing to your lack of sleep.