The COVID-19 outbreak has been an incident that caused much disruption and uncertainty in people’s lives. As countries go on restricted movement, many people are struggling to adapt to a new way of life, while being worried for themselves and their loved ones. With such unprecedented changes, it’s understandable that the importance of sleep is not in many’s top priorities. However, focusing on sleeping well offers tremendous benefits for our mental and physical well-being.
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. Whether you’ve had sleeping problems before COVID-19 or if they’ve only come on recently, there are steps to help you sleep better during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Keep a Schedule
Having a consistent routine can be helpful to establish a sense of normalcy in your daily activities. You can think of it as programming your mind to carry out certain activities at a certain time. For example, you can implement sleep-specific activities in your daily schedule to include:
- Wake-Up Time: Set your alarm at a fixed time every day to get started.with a productive day.
- Wind-Down Time: Set a time to wind-down and get ready for bed. It can involve things like light reading and meditating, along with preparations for bed like putting on pajamas and brushing your teeth.
- Bedtime: Pick a consistent time to turn out the lights and fall asleep.
Set a Boundary
Creating an association in your mind between your bed and sleep can be beneficial to help you sleep better. Therefore, try to avoid working-from-bed while you’re working at home. Instead, set a specific office space for work, and leave the area when you’re ready to relax.
If you’re having a hard time sleeping, don’t spend more than 20 minutes tossing and turning. Instead, get out of bed and do something relaxing in very low light, and you might find it easier to get back to sleep.
See the Light
Exposure to light plays a crucial role in helping our bodies regulate sleep in a healthy way. As you deal with disruptions to daily life, you may need to take steps for a positive effect on your circadian rhythm:
- Spend some time outside in natural light. Even if the sun isn’t shining brightly, natural light still has positive effects on circadian rhythm. Many people find outdoor time is most beneficial in the morning, and as an added bonus, it’s an opportunity to get fresh air.
- As much as possible, open windows and blinds to let light into your home during the day.
- Be mindful of screen time. The blue light produced by electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and computers, has been found to interfere with the body’s natural sleep-promoting processes. As much as possible, avoid using these devices for an hour before bed. You can also use device settings or special apps that reduce or filter blue light.
Watch your Food
Keeping a healthy diet can promote good sleep. In particular, be cautious with the intake of alcohol and caffeine, especially later in the day, as both can disrupt the quantity and quality of your sleep. Certain food such as chamomile tea can help to promote relaxation and provide better sleep.
Utilize Relaxation Techniques
Finding ways to relax can be a potent tool in improving your sleep. Deep breathing, stretching, yoga, mindfulness meditation, calming music, and quiet reading are just a few examples of relaxation techniques that you can build into your routines. You can also use aromatherapy to promote relaxation, such as sprinkling a few drops of lavender oil on a tissue and placing it under your pillow, or using an aromatherapy diffuser.
Another relaxation strategy during this pandemic is to avoid becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus-related news. Bookmark one or two trusted news sites and visiting them only during a limited, pre-set amount of time each day.
- Cutting down the total time that you spend scrolling on social media. If you want a hand in this effort, a number of apps can monitor and even block your time on social media sites or apps each day.
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