With the pandemic leading the headlines around the world, not sleeping well has become an accepted side effect but it doesn’t have to be. Anxiety and sleep are intwined in an exacerbating circular relationship in that anxiety can cause a lack of sleep and a lack of sleep can lead to increased anxiety.
Getting good restful sleep during stressful times is key to maintaining important health benefits. Good sleep strengthens the immune system, heightens brain functions, enhances mood, and improves mental health. All of which are things you want to keep in optimal condition during a global health pandemic.
Below you’ll find keys ways to improve your sleep and ensure you’re prepared for whatever the day brings.
Set a regular sleep schedule and stick to it.
This includes a wake-up time as well as a wind-down time in the evening followed by a bedtime. Working from home can pose challenges to keeping a routine, but it’s important to carry on as you always have regardless of your work situation.
Beds are for sleeping
It’s importance to mentally emphasize the association of bed to sleep. This means not working from home in your bed, not reading news or scrolling social media on your phone or watching movies/tv/videos. Your bed should only be used for two things: sleep and sex.
Keeping your bedroom as dark as possible in the evening will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer for more restorative sleep. Blackout curtains are an excellent way to do this and they also help keep your bedroom cooler during the day by blocking out warming sunlight.
You may be stuck at home more than usual with lockdowns and quarantines, but you shouldn’t let that affect your physical activity habits. Sure, it’s much harder to exercise without a gym, but even as little as 12 minutes a day has proven to boost overall wellbeing and improve sleep.
If you have trouble falling asleep there is an easy trick to help you fall asleep fast. The 4-7-8 breathing technique was developed by Dr. Andrew Well and is based on an ancient yogic technique called pranayama. When practiced regularly, this technique has proven effective for helping people fall asleep quicker.
It’s easy and effective method that doesn’t require anything other than your attention.
How to practice 4-7-8 breathing for better sleep:
- Allow your lips to gently part.
- Exhale completely, making a breathy whoosh sound as you do.
- Press your lips together as you silently inhale through the nose for a count of 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale again for a full 8 seconds, making a whooshing sound throughout.
- Repeat 4 times when you first start. Eventually work up to 8 repetitions.