Protecting your sleep during Covid-19

The really sudden and sharp onset of Covid-19 has upended the lives of everyone and for many, the lack of certainty combined with the onslaught of difficult news can have a really bad impact on sleep patterns. But getting a good night’s sleep has never been so critical as it has been proven to help strengthen immune systems. Following are some steps you can take to improve your chances of a better night sleep. 

Put a daily schedule in place

The first and most significant disruption to our day-to-day schedules came by way of social distancing. Next was working from home and then, a series of rules and guidelines on our travel arrangements. In short, regular schedules went out the window. Being housebound will be disorienting and can impact sleep patterns enormously. It is really important to create a daily activity schedule and stick to it! This includes what time you get up, eat, exercise and so forth. It means that you are not getting into an endless series of weeks that have little sense of direction. If you exercise outdoors but feel nervous about contracting Covid-19 from others, switch your exercise times; plan your exercise times for early in the morning or later in the evening.

Ration the news

It is very important to stay up to date on Government and HSE guidance on Covid-19. But with so much social media nowadays, it is easy to get overwhelmed too! So to protect yourself, reduce the amount of time you spend reading up on Covid-19. Too much news and especially too much in-depth analysis may not provide any additional benefit and may be counterproductive and bad for your sleep. Use www.hse.ie to get your information on Covid-19.

Set some electronic limits

If you are finding that Covid-19 has caused your anxiety levels to increase, your electronic devices may not be helping you reduce it. Their ever-on alerts, pop-ups, and push notifications are designed to keep you wired. Set some electronic limits. Reduce or eliminate all of the alerts and push notifications you have presently except for any that are absolutely necessary (appointments, text alerts etc).

Restrict or even banish electronic devices from your bedside locker

If you use your mobile device as a clock, turn off mobile data. Also, try to restrict using them within 60 minutes before you go to bed. Remember, you are doing this to improve sleep which is much more important than those incremental updates you may like to receive.

Introduce daily physical activity

A routine of physical activity is a really essential element of developing a better sleep pattern. This can be as simple as a 20-minute walk. Make sure it is done at a brisk pace while maintaining your distance from others. Exercising can help reduce stress and anxiety, which has many positive health and mental wellbeing benefits. Reduce eating and drinking before going to bed During the Covid-19 emergency, it can be difficult to maintain a daily routine. But if you are a light sleeper at the best of times, doing all you can now to sleep better has never been so important.

Restrict what you eat and drink before bedtime

For some people, this might mean no caffeine or alcohol within 3 hours of going to bed. For others, it might mean an hour; it really depends on how well you know your own body. Caffeine, alcohol and high-sugar foods can be disruptors to a good night of sleep so look to limit your intake.

Why a good night’s sleep matters

During an illness, our bodies will call on all its available resources to fight off infection. There are a range of global studies that highlight the link between sleep and illness. In one example, a 2015 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine identified a direct link between short sleep times and increased propensity to getting a cold or virus.

So eat well, stay informed, exercise rigorously and sleep peacefully!