Updated: May 26
In the midst of pandemic chaos, you may have noticed changes to your sleep. You may be staying up later and sleeping in more. Or maybe you’re struggling to sleep at all. If this sounds familiar, it makes sense. Stress and anxiety can play a major role in the quality of sleep we get – and many of us are feeling stressed or anxious right now.
While we may not know how long our lives will be disrupted, we do know that prolonged sleep disruption can lead to complications like weight gain, depression, heart disease, stroke, and even dementia. Which is why it’s so important to make sleep a priority, now, maybe more than ever.
Ways to sleep better at night
There’s good news, though. There are things you can do to set yourself up for a good night’s sleep tonight. Here are just a few:
1. Stop watching the clock
It may be tempting, but if you can’t sleep, try to resist the urge to check the clock. Knowing just how much sleep you’re losing will only create stress and anxiety, and neither will help you fall asleep.
2. Reduce your blue light
Our computer and phone screens emit blue light, which actually signals our brains to wake up. Try to stop looking at your phone and computer an hour before bedtime. If you need to look at your phone, switch it to a sleep setting. Most smartphones can be adjusted in the settings section.
3. Use light to your advantage
Keep your bedroom dark with light-blocking blinds or drapes, and minimize the light given off by your alarm clock. Light is a major cue to your brain to wake up, so if you have a hard time waking up in the morning, open your blinds as soon as possible or consider getting a blue light to start your day.
4. Go to bed when you’re actually tired
If you’re not tired, you’ll likely end up watching TV, scrolling on your phone, or working from your bed. If you aren’t tired, go to another room to do these things and come back to bed when you’re tired enough to sleep. If you use your bedroom as a place dedicated only to sleeping, your mind will start to make that connection subconsciously.
5. Write it down
If you’re the type of person who thinks too much before sleep, keep a notepad on a bedside table. The act of writing down your worries or thoughts as soon as you get in bed can help program your brain to put your troubles aside before sleep and drift away more easily over time.
6. Keep it cool and quiet
Avoid music or leaving the TV on to fall asleep. If you need noise to sleep, use a white noise machine, or consider or a bedroom fan – actually, keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees at night is best for melatonin production.
7. Keep a routine
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will help get your body into a rhythm. Set your alarm clock so you’re getting 8 hours each night – even on the weekends.
These quick and easy tips are a great place to start, but if your sleep issues persist, there may be an underlying issue, like anxiety or stress. Consider signing up for our remote evaluation to get a deeper look at what's going on.
npr. (2008, May 20). “Can’t Sleep? Neither Can 60 Million Other Americans.” Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90638364