How have you been sleeping lately? Sleep is critical to physical health and effective functioning of the immune system. It’s also a key promoter of emotional wellness and mental health, helping to beat back stress, depression, and anxiety. You may or may not have been having sleep issues before the global pandemic happened that got most people staying in during the lock down. If you happen to have more sleep issues, and having more vivid dreams since COVID-19, you are not alone. Recent data has shown that some people are having issues getting to sleep due to stress and perhaps due to a lack of physical activity, and sleeping later than usual probably due to late night TV, movie binge-watching.There has also been increase in vivid and strange dreams. Neuroscientists say that these strange and lucid dreams could probably be caused by increased stress, while dream recall is increased by frequently waking. These data were taken from the World Economic Forum.
So what and how can we improve our rest and sleep patterns?
1) Set a regular sleep pattern. Your circadian rhythms act as an internal clock, guiding such things as your sleep-wake cycle; so get to sleep while it is still dark (by this I don't mean at 3 am; suggestion, anytime from 10 pm-midnight) and be up when the sun sets in (anything from 6-9 am is relatively good).
2) Limit your screen time especially in the late evening. According to the sleep foundation, "electronic devices emit an artificial blue light that can suppress the release of the body's sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. In turn, this can interfere with the body's natural internal clock that signals when it's time to sleep and wake
3)If you feel refreshed after sleeping for 4 hours, stay with that. Don't loose more sleep over this as you may have had a good quality sleep.
4) Allow yourself a cat nap during the day if you are tired. However limit this to short nap to before 3 pm; napping too late into the evening will disrupt your sleep.
5) Engage in a healthier lifestyle. Set some time aside for a workout; if you are able to, go out for a walk, and if you can't, do some stretching or light exercises at home.
6) Eat and drink clean. Cut down on sugar, snacks, caffeine, and alcohol. Most importantly, ensure that you do not have a heavy meal at night or snack late into the night.
7) Keep work out of the bedroom; the bedroom is only for activities related to sleep and relaxation.
8) Find ways to relax. Deep breathing, stretching, mindfulness meditation, calming music, and quiet reading are just a few examples of relaxation techniques that you can build into your routines.
9) If you have persistent sleep problems, please do seek for professional help.
10) Do try to create a comfortable ambience in your bedroom; clear your surroundings from too many items - declutter, have some cozy lights, and a cool environment to induce sleep.
That saying, it is time to turn in and hit the sack.