Sleep has always been very important to me. Running a business and waking up at 5 a.m. meant I needed to make sure I was doing all the right things to ensure I had a deep, restful sleep. Even after I left my business, I followed a very regimented schedule, always getting at least 8 hours of sleep, making sure to limit my caffeine intake and exercising daily.
When quarantine first hit, I was so proud of myself for sticking to this schedule. I promised myself that I would keep it this way. But I found as I began to enter week five of lockdown, I began to say “oh, well” a lot more, defaulting on my schedule I had felt so good maintaining.
This “oh, well” mentality has filtered into every area of my life now—something I’m not too proud to admit, but something I know many of us worldwide are experiencing. Various articles on the web with titles like “Embrace Being Unproductive,” ensure me that I’m not going through this feeling all on my own.
Quarantine has made me feel like a different person—not a bad person, but someone I don’t exactly recognize. I stay up late and have not-so-good nights of sleep. I no longer feel like working out every day. I eat more. I indulge more often. I have more anxiety. I have a general feeling of hopelessness sometimes—which is strange for a positive person like me. And America agrees, with “anti-insomnia, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant medications [spiking], with filled prescriptions increasing by 21% between February and March 2020” according to Health.
But the more I think about it, the more sure I am that a lot of these problems stem from lack of sleep. I’m more tired throughout the day, which means I’m less motivated to exercise and work on personal projects. According to Healthline, lack of sleep can even mimic symptoms of depression including “impaired concentration, loss of energy and motivation, irritability” and even “increased appetite.”
As much as it’s been nice embracing this side of myself, I’m ready to get back to my old productive schedule, which all starts with a good night’s sleep. How do I plan to do this, you ask?
1. Limit Naps and Lounge Time
We’ve talked about how taking nap is a good thing. If you’re tired, why not take one? But if you suffer from insomnia, the sleep experts at Ressleep warn that naps “may perpetuate a cycle of nighttime insomnia and daytime napping. The more you sleep during the day, the less tired you will be at night, which may increase your insomnia symptoms.”
If you can’t seem to fall or stay asleep at night, skip the nap and instead do something active.
2. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
Typical, right? But something I want to reiterate for myself, too. I used to be a pro at this. But now I even find myself consuming caffeine at dinner time. Not just caffeinated beverages, but dark chocolate too. As someone who is super sensitive to caffeine, one night a few weeks ago I had heart palpitations and crazy anxiety. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling that way until I remembered how much chocolate I had before bed. Safe to say I didn’t get any sleep that night.
3. Sleep on your back
I’ve been seeing suggestions for this pop up all over the place. Sign? Maybe. There’s a slew of reasons why sleeping on our back is good for overall health. But sleeping on your side or front can cause you to wake up feeling groggy.
Business Insider says, “The best position is sleeping on your back, which only 8% of people do. It’s the best position for reducing aches and pain, and it doesn’t cause heartburn because your head is elevated above your chest.”
I’m a stomach sleeper, which causes me a lot of neck pain, but somehow its the position I gravitate to at night. Check out this article for tips on training yourself to sleep on your back.
4. Eliminating alcohol before bed
This one came as a shock to me. Having alcohol before bed “may make you fall asleep quickly, but often causes wake-ups later on in the night as your body metabolizes the alcohol.”
Like so many others, I’m coping with quarantine with a little help from alcohol, which I really thought would help me to fall asleep and stay asleep. But here I am on the nights I consume alcohol, waking up after 30 minutes of sleep extremely restless.
How have you been sleeping during quarantine?
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Photo: Boekhorst, Nemati, Viera, Gorn, Alt; Unsplash.