Tags: better sleep

Strategies for Better Sleep in Troubling Times

a person holds a cell phone
Blue light from your phone or laptop can throw off your sleep, says Philip Cheng, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist.  (AP)

By    |   Monday, 30 March 2020 03:59 PM

If you are suffering from ‘coronasomnia’ -- insomnia linked to the current virus outbreak, you are not alone. Our brains are wired to respond to dangers by increasing vigilance and attention, says Dr. Suzanne Bertisch, M.D. in an article for Harvard Medical School.

That means during the coronavirus crisis, our minds are on constant high alert and many people are finding it difficult to sleep at night.

“Everything that’s going on right now cam make people more vulnerable to insomnia,” says Philip Cheng, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and research scientist at the Sleep Disorders Center at Henry Ford Health System. “It’s a vicious cycle: when you lose sleep, your emotions can feel more intense. Your ability to regulate emotions can also become diminished, so existing stressors become even more stressful, and your ability to calm down becomes more impaired.

Ideally, you should aim for a restful seven to nine hours of sleep nightly according to The Henry Ford Health System. Here are some tips:

  1. Stick to a routine. “Make sure you have a regular schedule and stick to your regular wake time,” says Dr. Cheng. “Just because you are working from home or your appointments are canceled doesn’t mean you should take liberties with your sleep.” Avoid napping regardless of how little sleep you had the night before.
  2. Schedule a wind-down time. At least a half hour before bedtime relaxing in a dimly lit room engaging in a non-stimulating activity such as reading a good, old fashioned book.
  3. Stay away from electronics. Blue light from your phone or laptop can throw off your circadian rhythm, your body’s innate ability to know when to sleep and wake up, says Cheng.
  4. Exercise during the day. Dr. Bertisch says this can help improve your quality of sleep, reduce stress and improve your mood. “If you need to go outside for exercise, maintain proper social distancing at least six feet away from others,” she advises. Many gyms and yoga studios are offering free, virtual classes.
  5. Minimize alcohol intake. While alcohol can help some people fall asleep it may cause more sleep problems at night, says Dr. Bertisch.
  6. Reduce stress. Deep breathing exercises or practicing relaxation techniques in the evening can help you summon the Sandman, say the experts. There are many free resources available on line to help. A great place to start is Insight Timer.
  7. Create the ideal sleep environment. A dark room and a room temperature of between 65 and 70 degrees are ideal, says Dr. Cheng. He adds that you also should not take a really hot bath before going to bed because that can raise your core temperature and make it difficult to sleep.
  8. Don’t eat a large meal right before gong to bed. If you think you will wake up hungry during the night, choose a light snack such as a small portion of crackers, fruit and cheese.

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If you are suffering from ‘coronasomnia’ -- insomnia linked to the current virus outbreak, you are not alone. Our brains are wired to respond to dangers by increasing vigilance and attention, says Dr. Suzanne Bertisch, M.D. in an article for Harvard Medical School.
better sleep
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2020-59-30
Monday, 30 March 2020 03:59 PM
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