While insomnia or sleep challenges have been part of our lives, the stress of the pandemic has increased these issues tremendously. Isolation and the multiple lockdowns have upset most of our daily routines from morning showers to the times we eat in our day, and our sleep cycles. Now, we roll out of bed, maybe shower each day, and don’t head outside to be in the sunlight but only bask in the glow of our computer screen. This lack of sun and routine can impact our circadian rhythms and the quality of sleep we get each night.
With poor sleep and lack of routine, you may have notices that your positive mental health has decreased. This is because there is a relationship between sleep and mental health. For instance, if you sleep poorly, you may wake up tired and have trouble coping with issues that may pop up during the day. In turn, this inability to cope may lead to lower self-esteem which can fuel anxiety and stress and cause you to continue the poor sleep cycle. During these times of covid it is more important than ever to try and get good sleep and have a routine.
How can you improve sleep and mood?
· Try to get a full night’s sleep. Adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
· Align yourself with your circadian rhythms by waking up and going to bed at the same time each day of the week. Get at least 15 to 60 minutes of sunlight per day. Don’t drink or eat 1-2 hours before bedtime to help your organs slow down and rest. Our brain needs to sleep and rejuvenate each night in order to function properly so the more in tune we are in our natural sleep cycle, the better.
· Avoid screen time at least 1 to 2 hours before your bedtime. Consider instead a routine of getting ready to sleep, by showering with a nice lavender scented wash, drink Chamomile tea, listen to a sleep podcast, meditation or mindfulness app or an audiobook.
· Check with a doctor for an overall health checkup to rule out any physical problems such as high blood pressure or sleep apnea.
You can also work with a therapist on a sleep hygiene plan or what may be causing your anxiety and stress. Sometimes we just need to talk with another person in order to work out our true feelings or to figure out how deal with the things that may be keeping us up at night.