These are challenging times. A pandemic is raging, people are losing their jobs, their livelihoods, and some are unfortunately losing their loved ones.
Stress and a loss of sleep are very reasonable, sane responses to the situation. And yet, these same responses will weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to the virus. In this article, we will try to deal with these problems.
Releasing stress and getting a good night’s rest is vital for your health. Here are some tips on how to handle yourself and your sleep in these trying times.
Excess stress can become a severe problem and can lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation (among other things). However, even by itself, sleep deprivation is no joke. It causes anxiety, memory loss, and may also lead to depression and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Well, a good schedule can help you with that.
Waking up and going to bed at the same time (yes, including the weekends) can help you regulate your body’s internal clock. This will then allow you to fall asleep faster.
Having a healthy bedtime ritual can also help. Mediating, breathing rhythmically, reading light and interesting novel, all of this can help you fall asleep faster. You can also listen to soothing, relaxing music, or even an audiobook. A long, luxurious, soothing bath before bed can also do wonders.
You want to keep your home as comfortable as possible. A nice bed and a clean space will prevent some extra stress from accumulating. You should also think about getting a new mattress if yours is old, or a mattress designed for the way you sleep, if you’re a side sleeper, lay on your back, etc. You should think about replacing your mattress if it's older than ten years, or if it started to dip down.
You also want to keep your sheets clean, your pillow the appropriate size, and your blankets as comfy as possible, especially for gentlemen.
Go to a big furniture store, and see what they have on offer. Take your time, browse through the store’s selection. Internet shopping is always an option as well. Reading online reviews can help you get a better understanding of what product works best for you. Check out some informative websites like Sleepify, take a gander at their guides and reviews for some ideas on how to get a comfy chair, bed, or whatever else you might need.
Experts from Healthline suggest you keep an eye on your sleep hygiene. Namely, sleep hygiene is the simple practice of preparing yourself properly for sleep. This includes several things.
For example, avoid caffeine as much as possible, and especially six hours before bed. If you can, don't have coffee after 2:00 p.m. And remember not to overdo it. The same goes for alcohol. While having a nightcap before bed seems relaxing, it will disturb your sleep, especially once the alcohol wears off.
Minimize your technology before bed. Your laptop, phone, and tablet all need to be shut off at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep. The glowing lights will throw off your circadian rhythm since they mimic daylight (especially blue wavelengths).
Treat the body, treat the mind. Taking care of yourself allows you to get rid of stress and to feel better in general. You should never go to bed hungry or stuffed. Avoid large meals before bed. Nicotine is a stimulant, so try not to smoke before bed as well.
Exercise can help too. For example, yoga alleviates insomnia, improves breathing, and puts you in a kind of meditative state before you go to sleep. Try to avoid heavy and intense exercising before bed, since this will get you excited. However, working out during the day, or in the mornings, can relieve stress and keep you relaxed and spent for the remainder of the day.
While it's good to relax, avoid large naps during the day. Twenty to thirty minutes is all you need – two hours is too much, especially if it is later in the day.
You also want to keep your environment restful. Minimize exposure to light, use room-darkening shades, and keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
Stress about all current events is troubling. But staying calm, practicing self-care, and being mindful of how you behave is vital for your health. Sleep is a big part of all of the above, and getting a good night’s rest will strengthen your body and prepare you for the hardships to come.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.