The current COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a substantial increase in stress levels among individuals, families and societies. Despite following orders to stay at home and exercising precautionary measures, people find themselves without adequate work and rest hours. This lack of a daily routine combined with higher levels of stress leads to sleep problems among the masses.
Sleep affects a person’s mental well-being, physical health and immunity. Sleep deficiency has been the source of numerous health problems. In times affected by the current pandemic, sleep cycles have been considerably disrupted. If you are experiencing sleep disorders, here are 8 effective tips for healthy sleep and stress-free living:
1. Try to maintain a regular sleep routine
Staying at home made people prone to sleeping for extended hours during the day or staying up late at night. Both habits led to disruption of the normal sleep cycle. If you also messed up your sleep cycle, we highly recommend getting it back up. Get up and sleep at a fixed time so your body and brain have enough time to relax.
2. Go outside for at least 30 minutes
Regular exposure to sunlight helps our body to maintain a regular 24-hour rhythm, which is very crucial for quality sleep. Therefore, your body should be exposed to sunlight for at least 15-30 minutes in a day.
Considering the current scenario of COVID-19, it would be good to leave the house in the morning with a mask, take necessary precautions such as maintaining physical distance and taking a 30-minute walk. In addition, sunlight is essential for the synthesis of vitamin D in the body.
3. Limit your screen time
Living and working from home has certainly increased the amount of time we look at our phones, TVs and computers. While you might not be able to avoid official zoom meetings and office work on your computers, you can certainly restrict the time you spend watching or playing games on phones and other gadgets. Sleep experts around the world suggest that individuals with trouble sleeping should stop viewing any type of screen at least an hour before going to bed. If it’s important for you to work or be in front of the screen, you can try using the night mode, the device’s light filters features, or you can use light filtering glasses to filter out some of the light that negatively affects sleep.
4. Strive to remain calm
It was observed that staying at home for a long time increased the level of anxiety in individuals. People who have trouble sleeping feel very impatient and cannot calm down. Here are some things you can do to feel relaxed and sleep well:
- Practice yoga and breathing exercises.
- Read a good, positive book.
- Take a bath in warm and cold water before going to bed.
- Talk to your loved ones before bed.
- An hour before bed, take a cup of warm turmeric milk
5. Follow healthy sleep habits
Good deep sleep is just as crucial as food and water and therefore not being able to sleep properly is always a cause for concern. To get a good night’s sleep, you should follow and practice some healthy habits like:
Avoid caffeine intake in the afternoon: This is because caffeine blocks the receptors that bind to the sleep-inducing protein, making you stay wide awake even when you want to sleep.
Avoid drinking alcohol at night: This might sound a little weird at the same time, because we often hear people having drinks to feel relaxed and calm. However, the truth is that alcohol causes insomnia and sleep disturbances by interrupting the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep pattern.
Avoid eating two hours before bed: Just like sleeping, eating should also have a routine. Therefore, it is advised that you practice meals at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime. This allows proper digestion and stomach contents to move into the small intestine.
6. Keep an eye on your naps
Taking a short 15-20 minute nap is considered enough for adults to feel refreshed. However, if you’re experiencing sleep problems, it’s best not to take long naps during the day, as they can interfere with your night’s sleep. Also, if you are taking sleeping pills, avoid frequent, long-term use.
7. Increase your melatonin consumption
Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone produced in the body when it starts to get dark. However, the current lifestyle has interrupted its production cycle. People who are experiencing sleep-related issues can practice ways to increase the production of melatonin in the body.
They can consume melatonin rich foods like sour cherry, walnuts, bananas, oatmeal, ginger, etc. at least 2 hours before bed or taking melatonin supplements in pill form. It must be remembered that you cannot take the pills without consulting a doctor.
8. Take Sleep Inducing Supplements
Many supplements induce relaxation and help you sleep, but it is advisable to consult a doctor. Some of them are as follows:
ginkgo biloba: A natural herb with multiple benefits, it can help you sleep, relax, and relieve stress.
valerian root: Numerous studies say that valerian will help you sleep better and improve your sleep problems over time.
glycine: Some research suggests that taking 3 grams of the amino acid glycine can significantly improve the quality of your sleep.
L-theanine: L-theanine is an amino acid that can improve relaxation and sleep.
Magnesium: Responsible for over 600 reactions within your body, magnesium can enhance relaxation and improve sleep quality.
Lavender: It is considered a powerful herb with numerous health benefits. Lavender can induce a calming effect to improve the quality of your sleep.
You may not need to use all 8 eight techniques to solve the sleep riddle, but the more you do, the more likely you are to get the sleep you need. The challenges of COVID-19 won’t last forever, but sleep is a prerequisite for optimal brain health and functioning.
HealthifyMe is a platform that can help you through this difficult time. You can keep track of everything you eat and drink and avoid being negatively impacted by COVID-19. HealthifyMe experts can guide you to live a stress-free life and develop the sleep routine you find so difficult to follow. HealthifyMe is a platform where you will receive assistance from the best fitness nutritionists, yoga experts and doctors.
Heavy meals or exercise at bedtime will reduce the amount of deep sleep you are getting. If sleep is disturbed by an increase in heart rate or metabolism, you may want to consider cutting back on exercise and heavy meals 3 hours before going to bed. Also avoid screen time an hour before bed.
To relieve a cough, you can drink warm water, stop using air conditioners (as they dry out your throat, leading to more coughing), use lozenges or cough syrups, or chew and suck on baheda juice. All these practices will help you to relieve your cough and sleep better.
COVID-19 has impacted the sleep cycle of all age groups and below are things you can do to bring your sleep cycle back into order:-
– Set consistent sleep and wake times for all family members according to age.
– Consider including everyone in creating a routine. Set daily meals and workouts/plays.
– To help maintain the natural 24-hour rhythm, look for bright days, including time outdoors and dark nights.
– Do not consume too much caffeine.
– Limit screen time for kids and adults.
– Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.
– If possible, go for a brisk walk.
– Spend time talking and playing with your family.
Sleep has a wide range of benefits for physical and mental well-being, such as:
– Sleep develops a strong immune system.
– Sleep improves brain function. After a good rest, our brain works efficiently, making it easier to learn, decide, memorize and reason.
– Lack of sleep makes us irritable and exhausted, lowers our energy levels and makes us feel depressed or worse. So, getting enough sleep increases our mood.
Eating the right kind of food is crucial for the well-being of every human being. Therefore, it is advisable to ensure healthy eating during the COVID-19 pandemic. As it will not only help boost the immune system but it can also help improve the sleep cycle as well. Eating at the right time will help you sleep well without interruptions. Also, it would be nice if you don’t drink any liquids before going to bed so that your sleep is not disturbed due to the frequent urge to use the bathroom.