Are you finding it harder to sleep during this COVID-19 lockdown? Well, you’re not alone! People are definitely sleeping differently as a result of the lockdown. Some of us are sleeping more thanks to a canceled morning commute. However, a lot of us are not getting enough sleep, and if you’re reading this, you’re one of them.
Most of us are staying up later at night, which makes that early morning Zoom calls that much harder. Did you know that this shift towards becoming a night owl is hard to combat? Light is the foremost way to get your circadian rhythms on track, but there are other things that may help you get your sleep back on track. Here are 10 tips and tricks to help get a better night’s sleep during this lockdown (and after).
- Get Daylight: The solar cycle is the key to help your circadian rhythms get back on track. Getting daylight first thing in the morning is the best time to reset your mental health as well. Ideally, you should go outdoors for a short amount of time, but proximity to windows is a great way to get daily natural light.
- Get Exercise: Daily exercise has been shown to help your circadian rhythms. If you exercise in the mornings, it will shift your rhythms earlier, making it easier to wake up each morning. It might not be fun the first time, but stick with it and it will get easier. However, even if you prefer to exercise a little later in the day, it will help build up sleep pressure that will make it easier to fall asleep at an appropriate time.
- Install Dimmers in your House: Light is by far the number one disruptor of sleep. During the day it can provide alertness and energy, but you don’t want that at night while you’re trying to fall asleep, right? The best thing to do is to install dimmers throughout your house to give you the flexibility to change your light levels over the course of the day. Did you know that your eyes have circadian rhythms? They need less light at night to see, compared to the daytime.
- Replace your Bulbs with BIOS SkyBlue™ light bulbs : They have a heightened amount of alerting daytime signals during the day, which can be removed at night with a simple dimmer. The dimmer also has an added benefit of changing the color of the lights, making the whole space feel different from day to night. This ability to delineate day versus night is also important from a mental standpoint. For the best benefits, get a programmable dimmer so that the lights automatically change at the same time each day. SHOP NOW
- Get an Alarm Clock: This may sound silly, but an old-school alarm clock with a red 7-segment display is a great way to avoid middle-of-the-night disruptions. How many of us wake up in the middle of the night and check our phones for the time? In addition to the blast of blue light that wakes us up, we also see those notifications on our phones—and those little cognitive bursts make it even harder to fall back asleep quickly.
P.S- Can’t find a red alarm clock that suits your needs? Just find the one you like and convert it to red with a filter. Bright Red (#026) from Lee filters will do the job nicely. You can find some here.
- Don’t Work in your Bedroom: Many of us are now working from home, and most of us have created a make-shift home office. We need to mentally separate work from sleep. This means we need to physically separate the place where we work from the place where we sleep. Try working from the kitchen, garage, or living room; anywhere that isn’t your bedroom. For extra benefits, try to find a place with a window, or perhaps you have access to a patio.
- Reduce the Temperature at Night: Our circadian rhythms are primarily driven by light, but temperature can also have a strong impact. In fact, our core body temperature changes throughout the day, and our bodies want the temperature to be coldest at night. Fans are a great way to reduce body temperature without cooling an entire house. Sleep studies have shown that the ideal temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, which is probably a little colder than your house at night.
- No “Night Caps”: Yes, alcohol is a sedative and it may help you fall asleep. But after that sedation wears off, alcohol becomes an irritant, waking you up in the middle of the night. It’s really hard to get back to sleep once that irritant starts to kick in since it’s like taking a nap before bed—in other words, a bad idea. Also, research shows that your sleep quality changes with alcohol use, meaning you’re getting a worse night’s sleep. An interesting rabbit hole: the worse you sleep, the more likely you are to crave vices such as alcohol—which means you’re more likely to do it all over again the next night.
- Write it Down: You’re lying in bed and thinking about all the things you need to get done the next day, worried that you’ll forget them in the morning. However, if you spend a few minutes putting that list down in writing before you go to bed, you’ll fall asleep more soundly and with less stress on your mind.
- The Bed is for Sleep (and Sex) Only: Spending a lot of time in bed before you go to sleep is considered bad sleep hygiene. Even the most comfortable bed will feel a little stale after 7 or 8 hours in it. So why waste any of those “comfy hours” being awake? Moreover, we behaviorally want to think of the bed as a place to sleep, not a place to watch TV, play games, or even read a book. If you like to do those activities before bed, do it in another room. Try to spend less than 30 minutes in bed before falling asleep. Can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes? The best thing to do isn’t to “try harder”; it’s actually to get out of bed, read a book, or do something else (ideally in another room) until you’re sleepy enough to fall asleep faster.