If you’re like most people, sleep is a bit harder to come by these days.
Though we’re starting to see a bit of normalcy resume, life is still very much in flux for many of us.
Schools are still shut down, many are still out of work, and although numbers seem to be trending down, people are still sick or have loved ones who are.
Dealing with these things on a daily basis can cause even the calmest of persons to experience some anxiety.
And here’s the deal with anxiety – it can really screw with your sleep.
You might be one of those people who feels like they get by just fine on 4-5 hours of sleep on an average night.
If you are the parent of a young child or you’ve got a demanding work schedule, sometimes that’s just the nature of the beast. You drink a lot of coffee and do the best you can.
That may seem sufficient for the most part. You may even “catch up” on the weekends or grab a nap once in a while to make up for the deficit.
The thing is though….if you aren’t getting enough sleep on a routine basis, you’ve been running on reserves.
And if you were already running on reserves before coronavirus happened, then those reserves have long run out by now if your sleep habits haven’t improved.
Our bodies just weren’t designed to run long-term on little sleep.
Think of your body like a cell phone. We recharge our battery at night so our phone is functional. If we only charge it a few hours here and there, the battery wouldn’t ever get enough charge to get us through the day.
The same is true for you. If you aren’t “recharging” every night by getting enough sleep, you are going to feel the effects as you try to function during the day.
If you aren’t sleeping well, a few things are going to happen.
One, you’re going to feel tired and sluggish during the day. That’s pretty much a given. No matter how much caffeine you consume, it won’t ever feel like enough.
Two, you’re going to have difficulty concentrating and will likely experience some short-term memory loss.
Three, you’re going to feel irritable and on edge. Your anxiety will skyrocket and you won’t have the mental capacity to handle hurdles thrown your way.
Four, your immune system will weaken and you’ll end up more prone to illness. With a worldwide pandemic happening, this is the LAST thing you want to happen. Keeping a healthy sleep routine is a major component to your overall physical health.
Bottom line, you need good sleep – your mind and body depend on it.
Time outside is each day is key to both mental and physical health. We’ve talked about this before, but the sun provides many benefits such as needed vitamin D and immune-boosting properties.
Even better, if you can get some physical activity in, do it! Being physically active is known to improve our mood, our sleep, and our overall well-being. Our bodies were made to move.
Lastly, the sun helps our body regulate its circadian rhythm. Exposure to sunlight helps produce melatonin which is necessary for falling asleep at night.
We are social creatures by nature. Though times are weird and it may be necessary to keep a physical distance from friends and family, there’s no reason technology can’t help keep us connected.
When we experience anxiety, it is human nature to withdraw. The thing is, when we don’t resist this tendency, it’s easy to get caught in a self-feeding cycle. The more isolated we feel, the more our anxiety worsens. The more our anxiety worsens, the more we withdraw and keep to ourselves. And on and on it goes.
Keep in touch with loved ones – daily, if possible. There are so many ways to make this happen. Social media, texting, video chatting, even a good old-fashioned phone call works! No matter the method you choose, make it a habit to reach out to friends and family every single day.
Setting a routine is important for good sleep. Without a routine in place, our minds are constantly on overdrive, trying to figure out what comes next.
When you’ve got anxiety, like many are experiencing right now, this can make it worse. By putting certain daily tasks on “autopilot”, you are freeing up brain space and giving yourself a bit of breathing room.
Plus, by prioritizing certain tasks at bedtime, you can create an environment that promotes calm and relaxation. When your mind and body are at ease, sleep comes a whole lot easier.
Some elements you can add to a before-bed routine – soaking in a warm bath, unwinding with a good book, and downloading a white noise app and playing the tranquil sounds of nature as you tuck into bed each night.
If you want to reap the rewards of healthy sleep, it’s important to keep the above tips in mind.
Spending time outdoors, staying connected with friends and family, and setting (and sticking to) a solid nighttime routine are the necessary elements to a good night’s rest.
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