March is National Sleep Awareness Month. This year March also marks one year since COVID-19 took its hold on us, causing schools and businesses to shut down, sporting events to cancel and life as we know it to change dramatically.
It goes without saying that life during a pandemic is anything but normal, causing an increase in stress and anxiety levels for most of us. This can play a negative role in many areas of our lives, including the quality and quantity of the sleep we get. As a result, we are left feeling tired, cranky, and blue.
If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, it’s important to know you’re not alone. In a 2017 sleep survey conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, 75% of adult participants indicated experiencing stress in the past month, resulting in at least one sleepless night that month.
And that was before COVID-19.
Benefits of sleep and how to get it
You’ve probably heard that getting ample sleep has tremendous benefits to our well-being, such as:
- Boosting our immune system
- Heightening our cognitive abilities
- Enhancing our moods
- Improving our mental health
Of course it’s not as easy as climbing into bed, closing your eyes and POOF, you’re asleep for the night. So the big question is, “What can you do to consistently get better sleep?”
There’s no easy answer to this, but there are some things you can do in your day-to-day life to help promote quality sleep at night.
Develop a sleep schedule
The first is to establish a sleep routine. This includes waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed around the same time every night. It also includes having some time to wind down before you hit the hay by engaging in light reading, meditation or journaling.
In addition, it’s helpful to associate your bed with sleep, so the only activities that should take place in your bed are sleep and sex. Try not to work on your laptop in or even on your bed, and reserve watching TV to another room.
Soak in the light
Expose yourself to natural daylight. Open the blinds in your home to let in some natural light and get outside if the weather cooperates. This will help moderate your circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-awake cycle. And, while we’re talking about light, beware of how much “blue light” you’re getting from all the screens you’re in front of. This can have a negative effect on your body’s natural sleep promoting process.
Move your body
Exercising and staying active also have benefits that promote good sleep but a word of caution: avoid working out right before bedtime as that can have an adverse effect.
Try to relax
Other relaxation techniques to try in the evening include listening to calming music, practicing yoga, and quiet reading, all of which promote better sleep.
Stop tossing and turning
If you’ve tried the above techniques and still have a difficult time falling and staying asleep, talk to your healthcare provider today.
- See your primary care provider if you’re concerned about your health and the quality of your sleep.
- When appropriate, Hudson Physicians will recommend a home sleep study and data analysis will be performed by a sleep medicine specialist and reviewed with you.
When you’re tired of being tired, let us help.