Strategies to promote better sleep in these uncertain times

These are unprecedented times. Given the threat of the coronavirus pandemic on us personally, our communities, and our society, it is normal to experience anxiety and sleep problems. Sleep is a reversible state marked by a loss of consciousness to our surroundings. As members of the animal kingdom, our brains have evolved to respond to dangers by increasing vigilance and attention. In other words, our brains are protecting us, and by doing so it’s harder for us to ignore our surroundings.

Despite the threat of the coronavirus and its rapid and pervasive disruption to our daily lives, many of us are an in a position to control our behaviors and dampen the impact of the emerging pandemic on our sleep. Cultivating healthy sleep is important. Better sleep enables us to navigate stressful times better in the short term. It also lowers our chance of developing persistent sleep problems in the longer term. Finally, better sleep gives our immune system a boost.

Daytime tips to help with sleep

  • Keep a consistent routine.
  • Get morning light
  • Exercise during the day
  • Don’t use your bed as an escape
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day
  • Helping others may help with feelings of uncertainty or unease

Nighttime tips to help with sleep

  • Prepare for bedtime by having a news and electronic device blackout
  • Minimize alcohol intake
  • Set a regular bedtime
  • Reduce stress
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment, a place that is cool, dark, and quiet
  • Don’t spend too much time in bed during the night (or the daytime)