It’s normal to have difficulty sleeping during this unprecedented time of transition and uncertainty. COVID-19 evokes emotions such as fear and anxiety, which clearly have a drastic affect upon our sleep quality and rapid eye movement (REM) cycle. Lately, I have passed along the following suggestions to my clients about how to take better care of yourself by positively influencing your sleep schedule.
Take Time to Wind Down
I recommend establishing a bedtime routine, although it can be difficult to stick to on weekends with more activity and things on the schedule – during these times, it’s okay to provide yourself with a “hall pass.” It’s important to celebrate the small successes, even if you’re only able to do this once a week. Giving yourself time to wind down mentally prepares your brain for sleep. Typically, I recommend starting this process at least an hour before you want to fall asleep. Unplugging from technology, leaving your phone outside of your bedroom, reading, listening to soothing music or taking a shower might help.
During this time of chaos, it’s especially important that we learn how to quiet our minds. Meditation doesn’t have to be complex or intense – it can simply revolve around your inhale and exhale. There are many apps out there that you can use for guided meditations, and I would recommend starting with Headspace.
Write Out Your To Do List
Naturally, when you lie down, your brain is going to come up with things that need to be accomplished the next day. I recommend keeping a notepad and pen by your bedside table so you can jot them down when they come to mind. Essentially, this gives your brain permission to let go of the thought or task temporarily.
Avoid Coffee and Caffeinated Tea
Research proves that Chamomile tea is useful for promoting sleep, but sleepy time tea is my go to before bedtime. If you are a coffee drinker, try to avoid drinking it later in the day. Personally, I have never been a coffee drinker, but instead I rely heavily on Arbonne energy fizz sticks, which is a powdered energy drink mix that you combine with at least eight ounces of water. It’s like sunshine in a bottle in that it provides the body with everything it needs to create and sustain its own energy. Additionally, Arbonne fizz sticks set the body up to fight off disease because they are alkaline forming. It’s like coffee without all of the negative side effects!
Don’t Lie Awake in Bed
If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, and you have been lying awake for about thirty minutes, don’t remain. Get up, grab a glass of water, do some stretching, or something else you find relaxing. I wouldn’t recommend resulting to technology, because this will cognitively stimulate your brain, thus working against your mission of falling asleep.
Rolling essential oils on your pressure points can be a helpful sleep aid. Lavender, Bergamot, Valerian, and Chamomile all lower blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, which are all necessary ingredients for a good night’s sleep.
Move Your Body
There has been an extensive amount of research on the link between exercise and sleep that states people who exercise are able to fall asleep faster, and sleep more soundly. If you don’t have time to exercise, adding daily movement (at least thirty minutes a day) is crucial.
Steer Clear of Stressful Activities Before Bed
Not surprisingly, engaging in stressful activities before bed, such as paying bills, watching the news or checking work emails is not going to help you wind down. Save that for the daytime!
Talk to a Friend or Counselor
This is a no-brainer, but talking to someone else as opposed to harboring all of these feelings within your mind and body can be helpful and relieving. Processing your feelings while you are awake makes it easier to sleep once nightfall comes around. If you don’t have a therapist and you’d like to have someone support you during this difficult time, you can contact Symmetry Counseling to get matched with a therapist today.