As we all do our part to help contain the spread of COVID-19 by self-isolateing and social distancing, it's easy to to feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressed. We're obviously missing get-togethers with friends and families. We also suddenly more aware of how often we need to washing our hands, how we frequently we need to wipe down “high-touch” surfaces like countertops, doorknobs, toilets, phones, and keyboards using household cleaners and wipes. We suddenly need to be aware of how often we touch our faces, and how often
All that awareness can increase stress levels.
"I Can't Sleep!"
Fnding creative ways to stay in touch with loved one, eating healthy and exercizing is important. But getting sufficient sleep can be critical in maintaining our health. Insufficient sleep can alter levels of the hormones involved in metabolism, appetite regulation, and stress response.
Some simple tips to getting better sleep during stressful times:
- Avoid Caffiene And Food Before Bed
Caffeine is a stimulant. A study published in Science Translational Medicine found that caffeine can delay the timing of your body clock. Not only will it reduce your total sleep time, it can also reduce the amount of deep, restorative sleep.
Since the stomach takes about 3 hours to empty itself, waiting at least that amount of time after eating before going to bed is a good idea. Sitting up helps digestion. Laying down can cause the acid in the stomach to leak out into the esophagus, or 'foodpipe', causing reflux.
- Put Your Phone and Tablet Away
This one is a challenge during stressful times. These little devices we are so connected to were designed to make us more productive and our lives easier. They’re designed to entertain us and provide information. But when it’s time to sleep, the last thing our brain needs is more information, particularly these days when so much of the news is bad news.
According to the Sleep Foundation, the blue light that’s emitted from these screens can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increase alertness, and reset the body’s internal clock (or circadian rhythm) to a later schedule.
- Adjust The Thermostat
The optimum temperature for a good night's sleep is right around 65 degrees.
- Instead of Checking The Latest News, Take a Warm Bath
A drop in body temperature at night is one of the classic signals for the body to start producing melatonin. Our bodies get colder at night naturally. Our core temperature, typically at around 98.6°F, drops by a degree or two as you're getting sleepy and as the night goes on. Right around 4 a.m. it starts to rise again.
You can give that downward bedtime shift a boost by heating yourself up in a warm (not hot) bath.
Once you get out of the bath, cool yourself down for a while, then slip into bed. The bedroom should be cool now, so you can use breathable bed linens to help regulate your body temperature.
It's always been true that when you get enough sleep, you're less likely to get sick. During times like these, sufficient sleep is critical to keep your mind and body healthy.
We blogged about the benefits of a warm bath here.
- Adding some aromatherapy can help as well.