10 steps for managing sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic
Many people are understandably worried during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, when we worry, we may not sleep as well. Common complaints for those who are not sleeping well include feeling down, anxious, irritable, as well as having troubles concentrating.
Symptoms of depression or anxiety can emerge. People may find that they’re arguing more with their loved ones. Some may complain that they’re having a harder time concentrating at work.
In sleep clinics, sleep psychologist often help people with these types of sleep disturbances using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). What is CBT-I? Well, it is primarily a behavioral insomnia treatment that does not rely on medications.
In this article, I would like to share 10 steps that you can take to help you with your sleep. Although this isn’t CBT-I, these ideas are drawn from it and can help you during these difficult times.
Before bedtime, we can both add and remove behaviors that can impact our sleep. These include:
- Stay away from news about the pandemic in the hour before bedtime
- Stay off of your computer and smart phone at least one hour before bedtime
- TV is okay before bedtime, though don’t watch it in bed and keep it light
- Take a hot shower or warm bath before bedtime
- If you are having a difficult time putting these worries aside, consider clearing your thoughts by writing them down a couple of hours before bedtime
- Exercise in the early evening
- Avoid looking at your clock, once you’ve decided to try and sleep
Consider these steps for managing your sleep:
- When we are sleeping fine, going to bed and waking up at the same time is a good strategy. However, if you’re having troubles falling asleep, don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy.
- At the same time, still wake up at the same time each day.
- Limit napping. While a nap may make us feel better temporarily, it weakens our body’s need for sleep on the following night.
It’s normal to feel anxious during these difficult and unprecedented times. If you’re still struggling with your sleep and interested in trying CBT-I, ask your doctor for a referral to the sleep center. This may be what you are looking for.
Mark Rosenblum, Psy D, DBSM, CBSM
Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center at Hennepin Healthcare
Take the nap..it will make you feel more calm, and reassure you that you beat the stress and really can sleep. All that sleep really counts.