Five Simple Tips for Better Sleep During Stressful Times
COVID-19 is impacting our society in significant ways. The increase in anxiety and stress has increased insomnia, intense dreams, restlessness, and other sleep disorders. In fact prescription drug plan provider Express Scripts reports that sleep disorder prescriptions jumped by almost 15% between February and March. (The increase follows five years of declines.)
Shortened rest periods amplify the stress and anxiety our bodies feel.
Studies from China corroborate these negative impacts. The people most affected are front-line medical workers and those who have atypical schedules (long working hours, shortened breaks, night shifts, etc.). For people in this category, sleep problems escalated dramatically; over one-third of this population reported their sleep has been compromised.
Here are a few tips on how to sleep better during COVID-19:
- Meditate, breathe & relax
Lie on your back, breathe deeply and relax your muscles. Do this muscle by muscle. Start by squeezing your toes while inhaling. Then, each time you release your breath, stretch another part of your body and let go while exhaling: your calves, your thighs, your belly, your chest, your arms, your jaw, etc. At the end of this exercise your breathing should be calm and your body relaxed, ideal for dozing off into sleep.
2. Improve your bedding
According to the World Economic Forum and the World Sleep Society, “using comfortable and inviting bedding” is one of the top ten tips for getting better sleep during the pandemic. Choose pillows suited to your sleeping position, make your bed comfortable with a mattress pad and an oversized comforter that will minimize duvet battles with your partner. Consider adding a down blanket or cooling sheets for a luxurious touch. Cooling bedding technology has made significant advancements in recent years, and is a great way to reduce the temperature in your room, which in turn facilitates better sleep.
3. The 4-7-8 sleep technique
The 4-7-8 technique, created by Dr. Andrew Weil, focuses entirely on breathing to help clear your mind and facilitate falling asleep:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ripple of your palate, just behind your teeth and exhale audibly through your mouth.
- With your mouth closed, breathe in through your nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Exhale audibly through your mouth for eight seconds.
Repeat the exercise four times.
Exhalation should take twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. This breathing ratio is called the Relaxing Breath. If you have trouble holding your breath at this length, speed the exercise up, but keep the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply. This process will calm your body and facilitate sleep.
4. Think about a Restful Place
Imagination can also help (Calgon, take me away!). Close your eyes and imagine you are in a place where you can completely relax, an ultra-comfortable hotel room with luxurious bedding, a sun lounger on a beach or even lying on the water. It is important that you also focus on what you feel, smell and hear there. If you are thinking of a flowering meadow, remember the smells, the summer breeze on your skin, your hands touching the grass, the soft blanket beneath you.. before you know it, you are sleeping and dreaming of your restful sanctuary.
5. Try Not to Sleep
It sounds contradictory, of course, but it is actually recommended by Stanford medical sleep professionals. Anyone who has had a bout with insomnia knows that thinking or saying that you really need to sleep can have the opposite effect. If, on the other hand, you keep repeating - aloud if necessary - that you are not going to sleep and at the same time you force your eyes to stay open, your mind begins to rebel. In other words, if you are not allowed to sleep, you will fall asleep faster.
Hopefully these tips help provide some relief from your challenges with sleep.
If you'd like help choosing the right bedding, you may contact our customer service representatives by email.