In 2021, sleep quality reduced. A decent night’s sleep was difficult to come by due to high anxiety about COVID-19, as well as familial disturbances and financial losses. Patients frequently complained to their doctors about sleep difficulties, and online searches for insomnia increased dramatically.
It’s time to adjust your sleep schedule in 2022. Begin by focusing on the need for sleep hygiene, not just hand hygiene, as a health necessity. To better sleep, try a different type of mask a light-blocking eye mask. Dr. Kannan Ramar, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said, “Unfortunately, individuals have been suffering.”
According to Ramar, a pulmonologist, critical care specialist, and sleep medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic, as well as a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, the widespread concern is a big component in sleep disruption. Concerns about COVID-19 abound.
“Interestingly but not surprisingly people have more concerned about their loved ones than they are about themselves,”Ramar says, offering the following sleep-inducing advice:
Take a break from the constant stimulation of social media and the 24-hour news cycle- By turning off the television and getting online at night, you can reduce worry and stress. “Watching stress-inducing news, especially close to bedtime, can keep people awake,”Ramar explains. “Allow at least one to two hours before bedtime to turn off social media, news, and online channels.”
Reduce the number of nightcaps you consume- “That has some negative consequences in terms of falling asleep,”Ramar explains, especially if alcohol is consumed too soon to bedtime. “Though it may help you go asleep, it tends to interrupt you and wake you up regularly as long as the alcohol is in your system.”
Then comes daytime sleepiness and tiredness. “If you’re drinking alcohol, try to limit your intake and quit at least one to two hours before bedtime, or even sooner if feasible,” he suggests.
Limit your coffee consumption- Caffeine stays in your system for four to six hours. A cup of coffee or other caffeine product in the late afternoon or early evening may prevent you from falling or staying asleep. “Just reducing caffeine intake and ideally avoiding any after 2 p.m, if not midday, would be something to consider.” Another danger to avoid is getting into a vicious cycle of drinking more alcohol in the evening and then following it with free-flowing coffee during the day to feel alert.
Exercise- “Sleep is one of those three pillars for a healthy lifestyle, much like proper eating and frequent exercise,”Ramar explains. Being more physically active, in particular, will help you sleep better.
Journaling can help you relax. -“If you have a lot of anxieties, consider writing or ‘worrying time’ for 20 to 30 minutes before night.” “Writing things down in a journal or diary seems to clarify the mind.”
Revitalize Family Sleep
Dr. Caroline Okorie, a pediatric pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Stanford Children’s Health in Palo Alto, California, warns that pandemic-related impacts on sleep are affecting both children and parents. “As sleep professionals, we’re seeing anecdotally that more patients are having difficulty getting and staying asleep,” says Okorie, who is also a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine.
“There’s a little more exhaustion during the day, and parents don’t feel like they’re getting the kind of sleep they’re used to.” It’s important to address sleep issues as soon as possible. “Good sleep helps children grow and learn.”
“Sleep is beneficial to your immune system as well as your mood. We also know that lack of sleep is linked to a bad mood and that certain children may become hyperactive and have difficulty concentrating.”
Multiple factors, including disruption of routine, less time outdoors, less light exposure, and less physical activity, can all disturb children’s sleep during pandemic restrictions. Take the following actions to assist your family gets back on track with their sleep:
Re-establish a regular schedule.
“It’s easier said than done, Okorie admits,” “but it’s worth the effort.” “Even trying to gradually reinstate that pattern, based on the family’s needs. That involves waking up around the same time, going to bed around the same time, and, if feasible, having a set mealtime.”Get some natural light during the day. It’s also beneficial to set aside time to walk outside securely preferably in natural light, according to Okorie.
“Right now, some folks are in snowy places,”she says. “However, getting some light during the day can be beneficial.”
Don’t allow your beds to turn into workstations- As bedrooms become virtual workspaces and classrooms, good sleep may become a thing of the past. “If you’re doing schoolwork or classwork,”Okorie advises, “do it at a table or somewhere other than your bed.”
Encourage your children to prioritize sleep- “Start talking to your children about the significance of getting enough sleep,”Okorie advises. “You may want to help them prioritize it to get them on board. That’s something I recommend, especially for school-age teenagers.”Let kids express their priorities, too. “Definitely, some shared decision-making is needed.”
Improve Your Sleeping Habits
“Sleep is a major issue for a lot of people, and it was certainly a big issue before the pandemic,” says Dr. Don Mordecai, Kaiser Permanente’s national leader for mental health and wellness. People who are largely remaining at home have found it easy to get into a routine and neglect self-care as a result of the pandemic.
Good sleep does not always come naturally. Mordecai, who is also an adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, adds that developing practices to prepare for sound sleep is crucial.
“Ideally, you would use this as a time to acquire some of those habits” during the pandemic transition phase, he says. Include the following steps in your day and evening routine:
Develop a bedtime routine- “That may be anything from reading a book but not too fascinating a book to whatever helps you relax,”Mordecai explains. It could entail exercising earlier in the day and practicing mindfulness in the evening, he says.
The bedroom should be used for sleeping and sex only- “Don’t use it for texts s or email ,”Mordecai advises. “You’re teaching your brain to think of your bed and bedroom as this versatile space.”Keep your bed and, if possible, your entire bedroom environment separates from your daytime surroundings and workplace trappings.
Light-emitting screens should be avoided- Any light, blue or otherwise, is not conducive to sleep. “We know that light around night time is quite disruptive for your brain,”It simply instructs your brain to stay awake since it’s still light outside.
“If you have to use the screen late at night, or you really like to read on the screen, try to use dark mode or really dim it down.
What if you still can’t seem to get enough sleep? Experts advise that you seek professional help. “If patients have had trouble going asleep, and especially maintaining sleep, for more than three to four weeks despite attempting multiple measures, including some of these healthy advices,” Ramar says, “they should visit their primary care physician, or a sleep physician if one is close by, for support.”