People all around the world are not sleeping as well as they used to because of the uncertainty created by the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19).
Times of crisis can create havoc on healthy routines and sleep is often sacrificed in the process. But the fact is, not sleeping right now is putting your health at even greater risk.
If we’ve learned anything from sleep science, it’s that quality sleep is the glue that binds mental and physical health together. Your body cannot function the way it needs to without completing the full sleep cycle.
Depriving your body of sleep reduces immunity which leaves you at greater risk of catching an infectious disease. There have also been numerous studies linking sleep deprivation to psychological illnesses such as depression and anxiety.
Here comes the good news.
Sleeping better again is easy. Reclaim your sleep cycle and do your health a favor by giving your body and brain the time it needs to relax and recharge so it can better serve you when it counts.
Wondering why you’re not sleeping? We’ve compiled the 10 most common reasons people are losing sleep during the pandemic. And we’re laying down the best hacks on how to solve your sleep woes.
1. Too Much Screen Time
Screen time is surging. Zoom meetings, virtual socializing, online workouts, Netflix binging, and catching up on the latest news updates about the pandemic are keeping eyes fixated on devices more than ever.
Your eyes are important and you need to protect them against the detrimental impact of constant exposure to blue light. Blue light is the shortest and highest wavelength of light and too much of it strains the retina. It can block the release of melatonin which is essential for quality sleep.
Sleep hack: Limit screen time one hour before bed and use a blue light filter app to dim brightness during the night. Your eyes will be happy and your sleep cycle will benefit.
2. Uncomfy Bed
Are you punishing your back with a lumpy old bed? If you’re not sleeping, try an all-natural comfort-cure: upgrade to a better mattress. The average person spends one-third of their life in bed — even more in times like this when you are confined to your home.
Uncomfortable mattresses are notorious for causing sleep deprivation. In stressful times like these, your mind and body need extra TLC and the best mattress will provide the support and comfort required for a deep rejuvenating sleep.
Sleep hack: While you’re at home, take advantage of a risk-free sleep trial on a new mattress and see if you can reduce sleep loss and elevate the quality of your sleep.
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Just like over-snacking, over-napping isn’t good for your health. Reduce day time naps to increase your appetite for sleep when it’s bedtime. Not sleeping at night is often linked to too much sleep during the day.
Napping can be healthy, as long as it is done right. Naps should not exceed 20 minutes. If you nap for too long and allow the body to enter the deepest stage of sleep (REM), you’ll wake up drowsy, bothered, and you will struggle to manage your sleep cycle later at night.
The REM stage of the sleep cycle is where dreams occur. It is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep. Waking up without completing the REM stage of sleep can be detrimental to both mental and physical well-being which is why keeping check of how long you nap for is key.
Sleep hack: Ban naps after 3 pm to give your body at least 7 - 8 hours to get tired in preparation for bedtime.
4. Coffee Overload
When you’re working from home, reaching for that extra cup of coffee late into the day gets easier. Caffeine is a stimulant that increases alertness, so naturally, drinking coffee too close to bedtime sends the wrong signals to the brain.
Sleep hack: Swap your late coffee for a chamomile tea. Also known as ‘sleep tea’, chamomile contains sleep-inducing antioxidants that relax the mind and body.
5. Eating Too Late
With more people indulging in late lunches during lockdowns, dinner time is getting pushed back. Immediately laying down with a belly full of dinner strains the digestive system and can make you more susceptible to heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion.
Studies indicate small nutrient-dense meals close to bedtime benefit the digestive system, and can also help regulate the morning metabolism.
Long story short, if you are indulging in rich foods that are hard to digest, do it at lunch time rather than before bed.
Sleep hack: Reserve carbs and fatty proteins for lunch and prepare a light low-calorie dinner so the digestive system isn’t working in overdrive when it’s time to wind-down at night.
6. Too Many Sleep ins
From morning till night, our energy levels are dictated by an internal clock called a circadian rhythm. When we have too much sleep, natural intervals of alertness in the body become confused, leading to restlessness and fatigue.
Sleeping in is a result of sleeping too late. Which is what most people have been doing during the pandemic. Avoid the vicious cycle of sleeping in too much by maintaining a strict bedtime each night. Going to bed at the same time helps the body develop a body clock. After just a few weeks, you can start waking up without an alarm clock feeling energized after a full night of rest.
Sleep hack: Place your alarm clock away from arm's reach when sleeping so you physically have to get up to switch it off. With enough willpower, you can end your days of hitting that snooze button.
7. Working in Your Bedroom
COVID-19 has moved almost 50% of America’s employees into home offices. For some, that home office is a cramped studio apartment.
Working from your bedroom might just be the reason that you’re not sleeping well. Environmental factors play a crucial role in sending signals to the brain that it is time for sleep. If your bedroom is set up like an office, you won’t feel as relaxed as you should. Try working outside the bedroom as much as possible.
Sleep hack: If you have no choice but to work in your bedroom, pack away all work-related things at least 2 hours before bedtime. This way, you won't have a constant visual trigger of brain activity when you’re trying to sleep.
8. Excessive stress
The pandemic has stressed out the entire world. Forcing many people to reevaluate every aspect of their life. Stress almost always leads to ruminating late into the night. There has never been a more important time to practice mindfulness. Exercise, meditation, and catching up with loved ones are all effective strategies that assist with stress management.
Another way to stress less is to treat yourself. Upgrade your mattress to make yourself feel extra cozy. Apply on some facial treatment or watch your favorite movie — whatever makes you feel relaxed.
Sleep hack: A great cure for not sleeping is to meditate before bed. Meditation helps to reduce sleep anxiety and overthinking. Even 10 minutes of guided meditation can relax the mind in preparation for deep sleep.
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9. Lack of routine
Your best bet to get your sleep cycle back to normal is to regain a healthy routine, even if you’re still working from home. Maintaining structure during the day can make things feel normal and create less sleep anxiety.
Stick to a routine so your circadian rhythm isn’t shocked into fatigue. The best routines always make room for 7 - 9 hours of undisturbed sleep.
Sleep hack: To end your days of not sleeping and regain a healthy sleep routine, follow the same sleep schedule for 3 weeks (including weekends). In 21 days, your natural body clock will kick back into action.
10. Too many treats
If treating yourself has become your new normal during the pandemic, a sugar overload is another reason why you’re not sleeping.
High sugar levels are known to make falling asleep fast difficult. In some cases, excess sugar can lead to sleep apnea and other serious disorders.
Sleep hack: Consider swapping bad treats with good ones before bed. Small amounts of cheese, peanut butter, pistachios, tea, popcorn, and dark chocolate are good supplements for artificial sugars before bedtime.
If you’re reading this and thinking "I want to sleep better", schedule some quality time with your mattress tonight. Not only do you need it, but you also deserve it too!Tell us in the comment: In what ways did COVID affect your sleep?
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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.