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Painted Brain | Tips To Fight Coronavirus-related Insomnia
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Tips to Fight Coronavirus-Related Insomnia

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Dealing with insomnia during the coronavirus pandemic

Insomnia is a condition that plagues one-third of the US population(1). It is already a big problem as it is. With the fear of the 2019 coronavirus adding to the stress in our lives, more individuals are reporting a particular type of sleeplessness aptly called “coronasomnia.”

A study investigated the connection between insomnia and COVID-19, and the researchers observed high rates of clinically significant insomnia in adults, particularly healthcare workers(2).

Some of the best alternatives for treating sleeplessness involve taking supplements, but there are still other ways to fight coronasomnia.

Here are some tips to help you sleep soundly amidst the global pandemic:

Set Your Office Hours

The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted many of our daily routines. If you’ve suddenly switched to working from home after being accustomed to reporting to an office, you will need time to get used to this new norm.

Try your best to get up normally as you would when preparing for that 20-minute commute to the office, even if you’re just headed to your living room.

Aside from your usual lunch break, take a short breather in-between your tasks. This interval helps break the monotony of staring at your screen.

Turn off Gadgets When Going to Bed

Despite the normalcy of facing screens to carry on daily tasks, continued exposure to the blue light from your mobile devices could disrupt your sleep cycle by affecting your body’s capacity to produce the sleep hormone melatonin(3).

Melatonin thrives in darkness. If you expose yourself to bright cellphone lights instead of sleeping, your brain will take that as a sign to pause melatonin release.

If you’re itching to check that social media notification right before you fall asleep, why not grab that book you’ve always meant to read? Start with chapter one. 

Try to avoid bright lights by dimming that lampshade. And before turning that page, make sure your gadget is turned off.

Limit Social Media Browsing in Bed

Knowing that we are currently living during a pandemic is terrible enough. We don’t need constant reminders from news outlets reporting the number of casualties from this global situation, especially just when you’re about to turn in.

While it is essential to stay updated on current events, consuming massive information when we are supposed to take it easy can trigger racing thoughts. This anxiety could keep us wide awake when we should be asleep.

[Related: 7 Ways Social Media Can Benefit Mental Health]

Follow a Bedtime Routine 

Be sure to wind down after an entire day of working at home. Do some stretching 20 minutes before you go to sleep.

Think of your entire day as a full workout routine, where you have to stretch before and after the whole activity.

You’ve been active all day, so you need to cool down to get a good night’s sleep.

Meditate

While getting ready for bed, try to practice mindfulness meditation to strengthen your mind-body connection.

Many mobile apps help you practice meditation and other calming strategies. These apps potentially lower stress hormones, so try downloading them if you haven’t already. You have nothing to lose when you’re already losing sleep.

This technique may also help when you wake up in the middle of the night and fail to go back to sleep immediately.

[Related: The 15 Best Apps For Mindfulness, Stress Reduction, And Meditation]

Keep Your Bedroom for Bedtime

Try to avoid working in bed since this trains your brain to associate the bed with work. Such an unhealthy association can further worsen your sleep patterns.

When it’s time to clock in, be sure to get up from bed and head for the living room or kitchen. This practice helps your brain avoid mixing up your rest area with your work area.

You need to train your mind that your bedroom is for sleep. Find another place at home to do your work, and then tell your brain that that area is your office.

[Related: The Importance Of Sleep In Achieving Optimal Health]

Avoid Day Naps

Discipline your body to stay awake and active during the day. Short power naps are alright as long as you use these naps to gather yourself. Just don’t pass out to avoid disrupting your sleep cycle.

If possible, try to keep awake while there’s daylight. It may be a better idea to sleep off your exhaustion at night.

[Related: 5 Ways A Good Night’s Sleep Supported by Napping Can Better Your Life]

Get Some Sunlight

While you stay awake during the day, be sure to get a healthy dose of natural sunlight. This practice helps keep our sleep-wake cycle in check so that the body produces melatonin at night instead of during the day.

Keep your curtains open and allow the light to spill into your room. During your breaks, you can also take a walk to another place (such as your backyard) for a change of scenery while you bask in the sunlight.

Get Some Exercise

Keeping your body active during the day will help reduce stress and maintain a balanced rhythm. Getting up to walk from your workstation to the kitchen already counts as exercise.

You can also do simple yet productive tasks, like taking out the trash or folding your laundry. This way, you stay active and achieve more out of your day while you’re awake.

[Related: Mental Health And Regular Exercise]

Limit Your Caffeine Intake

Drinking a single cup of coffee in the morning to start your day won’t hurt. Just avoid taking too much caffeine to the point when your energy levels last beyond your work hours.

Remember that caffeine only offers a temporary boost and may not be the best alternative for keeping awake.

Avoid Alcohol to “Help” You Sleep

Just like caffeinated drinks, alcohol affects our sleep cycle. While alcoholic beverages can help us fall asleep, they do not necessarily induce the right kind of sleep.

Reconsider that nightcap, as drinking alcohol before bedtime does not always improve sleep quality. 

Eat Dinner on Time

Allow your body at least four hours to digest your meal before you go to sleep. If you are going to bed at 10 PM, try not to eat anything after 6 PM.

You may have to extend your active hours once you eat much later in the night, potentially causing you to lose more sleep.

Your body tends to stop all digestive processes as you sleep. Any undigested food may cause unwanted weight gain or serious health problems.

References

  1. Bollu, P. C., & Kaur, H. (2019). Sleep Medicine: Insomnia and Sleep. Missouri medicine, 116(1), 68–75.
  2. Morin, C. M., & Carrier, J. (2020). The acute effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on insomnia and psychological symptoms. Sleep medicine, S1389-9457(20)30261-6. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2020.06.005
  3. Is blue light from your cell phone, TV bad for your health? UC Davis Health. Retrieved from https://health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/is-blue-light-from-your-cell-phone-tv-bad-for-your-health/2019/05  
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