Americans don’t get enough sleep when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic. But as the spread of coronavirus continues to impact our jobs, our finances and our well-being, it’s more important than ever to establish or maintain good sleep habits, which help the body fight off viruses and stay healthy.
“You need your respiratory system working optimally. You need your immune system working optimally, and the only way that is going to happen is if your brain is going through healthy stages of sleep without interruption,” Lauri Leadley, sleep coach and founder of Valley Sleep Center, told HuffPost.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. The extreme stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic naturally is leading to a lot of sleepless nights. Thankfully, there are plenty of easy things to do to help you sleep better and reduce the amount of time you toss and turn.
Below, doctors and sleep specialists gave us tips for a better night’s rest right now:
Enjoy natural light during the day.
Studies suggest that exposure to natural light helps our bodies stick to a consistent sleep schedule. While it may be harder to physically get outside in the current climate, there are ways to embrace the sunlight from the comfort of your own home, too.
“Try to get as much natural light exposure as you can during the day. If working from home, position yourself near a window, and if possible, get outside for a midday socially distanced walk,” said Sabra M. Abbott, an assistant professor of neurology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Take a hot shower or bath before bed.
This relaxing act primes your brain for sleep by naturally triggering the release of melatonin.
“In order to initiate sleep and maintain sleep, our bodies need a rise in melatonin. The best way to achieve a rise in melatonin is a decrease in body temperature,” Leadley said. “One of the ways we can help make our melatonin levels rise is by taking a hot shower or a hot bath before bed. When you get out of the shower or out of the bath, your body temperature will drop and therefore melatonin will rise.”