Are you feeling anxious? Out of sync? Tired? Most of us have bouts of sleeplessness when we are overly tired or anxious. Now more than ever, it’s important to get a goodnight’s sleep. Did you know that sleep actually boosts your immune system? According to the Mayo Clinic, during sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. … So, your body needs sleep in order to fight infectious diseases. During COVID-19, it’s incredibly important to boost your immune system, so be sure you get lots of sleep.
Granted, anxious thoughts, financial concerns, irregular schedules, and a complete upending of your normal routine can make it hard to get a goodnight’s sleep. But, there are things you can do to help you sleep well, and that will help boost your immune system, sense of well-being, and overall physical, mental, and emotional health. Here are a few tips from sleep expert Dr. Matthew Walker:
1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule
We should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. People can have a hard time adjusting to changes in sleep patterns. Unfortunately, sleeping late on weekends doesn’t make up for poor sleep during the week. If necessary, set an alarm for bedtime. Matthew emphasizes that getting on a sleep schedule is the #1 priority.
2. Don’t Exercise Too Late in the Day
Exercise is great, and we should try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. But try to exercise no later than 2-3 hours before bed.
3. Avoid Caffeine & Nicotine
Colas, coffee, tea, and chocolate contain caffeine, which is a stimulant. Consuming caffeinated food or drinks in the afternoon can have an effect on your sleep. Nicotine is also a mild stimulant, and smokers will often wake up earlier than they would without it, due to nicotine withdrawal.
4. Avoid Alcoholic Drinks Before Bed
Alcohol can reduce your REM sleep and keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep.
5. Avoid Heavy Meals and Beverages Late at Night
A light snack before bed is okay, but a heavy meal can cause digestive issues, which interferes with sleep. Drinking too many fluids can also cause frequent awakenings to urinate.
6. Don’t Nap After 3pm
Naps are great, but taking a nap too late in the day can make it hard to fall asleep at night.
7. Take Time to Relax Before Bed
It’s important to have time before bed to relax. Try to schedule your days so that you have time to wind down before bed.
8. Take a Hot Bath Before Bed
The drop in body temperature after a warm bath may help you to feel sleepy. Taking a bath can help you to slow down and relax before bed.
9. Have a Dark, Cool, Technology Free Bedroom
We sleep better at night if the temperature in the room is kept on the cooler side. Technology like phones and computers can be distracting.
10. Get Some Sun
Sun exposure during the day helps us to regulate sleeping patterns. Try to go outside in the sunlight for at least 30 minutes per day.
11. Don’t Stay in Bed if You (Really) Can’t Sleep
If you find yourself laying in bed awake for longer than 20 minutes, or you’re starting to get anxious in bed, get out of bed and do something else until you feel sleepy.
In the age of COVID-19, self-care is vital. A good night’s sleep is vital. Not only will sleep improve your immune system, it will also enhance your memory, your ability to learn, your emotions, and your metabolism. I can’t think of any better reasons to get intentional about getting our zzzz’s…….