Sometimes when we’re dealing with stress and change we find it hard to sleep. With having to stay home as a result of this virus, we may have less to do… or significantly more to do if we have younger ones at home because childcare and schools are closed. This can be very difficult! Plus we’re worried about our health, our finances, and our loved ones. We don’t know what the future holds and our brains just can’t relax. This can make it hard to either get to sleep or stay asleep. Yet rest is an important part of staying healthy. Here are ideas that may add up to more and better sleep:
- Dark, Quiet, and Cool: Keep bedrooms comfortably cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. As much as is possible, they should also be free from any noise and have limited light. The darker the room the better. If possible consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, "white noise" machines, humidifiers, fans, and other devices.
- Avoid Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Heavy Foods: Drinking alcohol or caffeine and smoking are proven to affect sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep, so avoid large meals or heavy foods for 2 to 3 hours before bedtime (still hungry? Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed). Reduce smoking or drinking after 6pm.
- Wind Down: Your body and mind need time to shift into “sleep mode,” so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading, journaling, listening to soothing music or a meditation app, or snuggling with your kids. Close the curtains, turn down the lights, and begin to breathe more slowly as bedtime gets nearer.
- Turn off Electronics: The light from our phones, tablets, or laptops can wake up your brain and make it hard to sleep. Watching the news increases our stress. Turn off all devices, including the television, an hour before you want to sleep (if you’re in my groups, you know my family rule of all phones off and out of bedrooms at 9:00pm!
- Get Outside: Take a walk, play in the yard with the kids, get some exercise! Daily exposure to the sun and fresh air, as well as getting our bodies moving helps set our bodies’ rhythms that tell us when to go to sleep. Remember when we had newborns, and their days and nights were backwards? Remember what the doctor told us? “Take the baby outside for a little bit every afternoon, and they’ll start sleeping more at night.” The same is true for us!
When we take care of ourselves, we are more able to care for those who are depending on us. Now get some rest!
Written By: Amy Cooper, MS
Family Coach, The Family Center