If you’ve been struggling with interrupted sleep or unusually vivid dreams of late, you’re not alone. You might even be feeling more anxiety than usual right now, and that’s totally normal. At this unpredictable time, creating and maintaining your own routines is more important than ever. If you find yourself with extra time on your hands due to social distancing, you can use it to prioritize habits that assist with healthy, supportive sleep.
This pandemic is a stressful experience that people are experiencing globally - it’s even being discussed as collective trauma. That being said, sleep is incredibly important for processing your emotions, for regulating both your mental and emotional wellbeing during tough times, and for your physical renewal. It’s important to prioritize improving your rest and avoid letting this stressful time lead to any number of sleep disorders.
Stick to a schedule
Keeping yourself accountable to waking up at a set time both provides structure for your day and keeps your routine solid, so it’s not a painful experience when you eventually shift back to earlier mornings. However, if you’re a night owl, it might be best to sleep in to make sure you’re still getting your 7-8 hours, even if that means shifting your alarm forward - just keep it mostly consistent! That extra time you afford yourself might make a big difference in the amount of sleep you get, to allow your body to recover from daily stressors.
Use extra time productively
You can use the time you would normally have spent commuting to do a quick yoga routine, some jumping jacks on your back porch or balcony for some fresh air, or even take a few extra minutes to linger over breakfast and read a book. Using this extra time to do something beneficial for your body or mind is a great way to support your mental health, and keeping up an exercise routine can help both your cognitive functions throughout the day, as well as your ability to fall asleep in the evening.
Get some exercise each day
It can be difficult to stay active under lockdown, especially if you already had a routine you liked that involved going to the gym, your yoga studio, or your favourite hiking trail. You might be struggling to stay motivated, but it’s important to find ways to help yourself get excited about exercise! Getting your body moving and your heart rate up benefits both your ability to get to sleep and quality of rest, as well as your mental functions, and even your emotional well-being. A local studio might be doing online classes, or you could walk or jog (at a safe distance from others) at a local park, or even just take a time out to have a solo or family dance party for five minutes! Fire up your go-to dance track and move your body.
Control your caffeine
Do you find yourself refilling your coffee cup all day when you’re at the office? The aroma of fresh coffee in the morning is a tempting lure, but your new home schedule is the perfect time to get your caffeine consumption evened out. Too much caffeine throughout the day can cause repeated spikes and crashes in energy that fatigue your adrenal system and negatively affect your mood, productivity, and even your ability to get to sleep in the evening. If you’re at home during the lockdown, you can dial down the strength and amount of caffeine you drink overall, or gradually ease off of your coffee by switching out your afternoon cup. You could try introducing green tea, which has a gentler level of caffeine and is balanced with relaxing L-theanine and lots of antioxidants, or a mug of gently energizing, healthful Golden Milk, which features the anti-inflammatory powerhouse of turmeric.
Explore herbal allies for sleep
If you normally struggle with falling asleep or getting a deep enough rest, it might be even more difficult with the added anxiety of CV-19. Being home every night, you now have the opportunity to try out different bedtime options. Herbal teas and even supplements can have a beneficial effect on your sleep cycle. Herbal, non-caffeinated teas with valerian, passionflower, chamomile, and other botanicals that promote relaxation can be a great way to get your body ready for rest. Supplements like melatonin, L-theanine, and even B-vitamins can support your sleep cycle, or you can find a blended supplement that’s specifically formulated for rest.
Dial in your sleep ritual
Developing and sticking to your ideal sleep ritual is a worthwhile undertaking at any time, but especially so right now. Your sleep ritual is unique to you and can incorporate whichever elements of self-care and pre-sleep you find genuinely helpful. Putting away your screened devices at least an hour before bed, doing some gentle stretching, using a relaxing essential oil roll-on, putting out your clothes for the next day, and writing in a journal are some enjoyable and beneficial routines.
You can experiment to find what works for you, and then stick to it! Part of what makes a sleep ritual effective is its repetition, which signals to your body and mind nightly that it’s time to enter a state of rest.