Sleep in the Midst of a Pandemic
Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Having trouble sleeping? The abrupt change from living your usual life to living a life of physical distancing and online classes is rough. Not to mention all of the other stressors that come along with a pandemic. Whether you were living on campus or commuting, adjusting to this new way of living takes a toll on your physical and mental well-being. If you've noticed a change in your sleep or feel fatigued during the day, you are not alone. Here are some tips that can help you get the right amount of rest:
Establish a Routine
Without routine, you are more inclined to nap during the day. If you aren’t monitoring your daytime naps, you can oversleep, making it harder to fall asleep at night. If you have a smartwatch or smartphone, you can track your sleep with a variety of apps to better understand your sleep schedule.
As a student, you have online classes and maybe you are also working from home. With this being said, no matter how your online class/job is being administered, try waking up at your usual time (even if you don’t have school/work) and go to sleep at your usual time. You can set alarms to help you wake up in the morning and use an alarm as a reminder to head to bed. Establishing some sort of routine won’t be easy and it won’t be perfect, but it may help improve your sleeping habits.
Reduce Electronic Usage
Similar to napping, it can be easy to spend hours on the internet without taking breaks. The blue light given off from computers and phone screens suppresses melatonin in your body, making it harder to fall or stay asleep. Try to reduce the time you spend on your phone or computer, even if it’s just for an hour or two, especially right before you go to bed.
A bonus benefit of reducing your exposure to the internet is that it gives your mind a rest from the pandemic coverage. Hearing about COVID-19 repeatedly can negatively affect your mental health. So by limiting how much time you spend on your phone or online, you may physically be able to sleep better and your mind may feel a little more at ease.
Get Some Exercise & Fresh Air
Exercise is not only good for you physically, but it is also a stress reliever and can lift your mood. The positive mental health effects of exercising, even if it’s a brief workout, can go a long way when it comes to calming your mind before bedtime. Between exercise videos and fitness apps, the at-home workouts options are endless. If you feel comfortable enough going outside, walking is also a great physical activity, especially when it’s nice out! Just remember to social distance! Stay at least 6 feet away from others (2 meters) and do NOT gather in groups.
Stay Hydrated & Drink Non-Caffeinated Beverages
Going to bed dehydrated can have a negative impact on your sleep. Your nasal passages and mouth can get dry and may cause your throat to hurt in the morning. Foods and drinks high in salt, sugar, or caffeine are dehydrating, so it’s especially important to replenish with water throughout the day. You can learn more about the importance of staying hydrated and how to spruce up your water in another one of my articles! **LINK THERE** Drinks aside from water that are good before bed are warm milk (can be non-dairy), chamomile tea and decaffeinated green tea.
Remember that it’s very normal and okay for COVID-19 to affect your sleeping habits during this stressful time. Know that you are not alone and your feelings are valid. Improving your sleeping schedule right now is not an easy thing to do and there is no pressure to do that. We have provided you with a few ways to help improve your sleeping habits to support you, so feel free to implement any of these if you feel comfortable doing so.
We are here for you. Stay safe Red Hawks!