Getting Your Best Night's Sleep: Tips and Tricks
By Daphne De La Fuente, Peer Educator President
December 30, 2020
As Covid-19 continues in the United States, it is crucial that we begin to tackle the newly introduced stressors that are here due to the current pandemic. One thing's for sure, with an increased amount of downtime, many people are taking stances on gaining something they've seemingly lost control of pre-pandemic; Sleep!
So, how much sleep should adults be getting? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average adult needs about seven or more hours of sleep (1), yet one-third of adults (2) in America are not getting seven hours or more.
While that's on an average day, the CDC has also acknowledged in a posted article
(3) that stress caused by an outbreak can affect people's ability to get some good sleep.
If you are experiencing a hard time trying to get to bed or are trying to improve your sleep schedule, here are some tips and tricks provided by the CDC (4) and the National Sleep Foundation (5) to help improve your sleep!
Establish A Sleep Schedule
Sleep schedules are vital to helping you stay well-rested. Covid-19 and its presence have caused many people's daily life schedules to become abnormal, but it's essential to try to create and keep a consistent sleep schedule with a wake-up time, a wind-down time, and a bedtime to maximize restfulness.
A wake-up time starts with a set time of getting up with an alarm that leads to the start of your morning routine. To really get the most benefit out of waking up to an alarm, try and not hit the snooze button. Waking up can be difficult for some more than others, but having a consistent time to wake up at helps build your internal clock. Keep in mind, it may take time to change your schedule, so try and tackle it by a 15 minutes daily difference (6) at first. Take it slowly and try to stay consistent!
A wind-down time allows your body to begin to relax from the day. This wind-down can include soft activities like journaling, light reading, meditating, breathing, and more. The National Sleep Foundation also recommends that you give yourself extra wind downtime because of the additional stress of Covid-19.
A bedtime is when you try to fall asleep. In the next tip, we'll discuss what to do if you can't seem to fall asleep when bedtime approaches.
Bed = Sleep
Experts say it's best to acclimate your body to associate your bed with sleep. That means working from home should not be done on your bed because we don't want our brains to create a dissociation between sleep and our beds. If you're going to continue working on homework, reading, or looking at your phone, it's recommended that you try and stay away from your bed while doing so. It even suggests that if you toss and turn for more than 20 minutes at a time, it's advised you get out of bed and begin finding something relaxing to do and try again later.
Light, no wait, Night?
Light has bountiful effects on our body's natural sleep pattern. Research suggest that you try and let in as much natural light as possible because it reinforces your circadian rhythm. Circadian Rhythm (7) is the internal clock our bodies use to feel awake or sleepy. It is best to see natural light as much as possible during the day by going outside or opening the window shades. Also, limiting screen time before bed is also good because blue light tends to interfere with your internal clock.
A good power nap between 20-30 minutes is ideal, but you want to make sure that it isn't late in the evening where it could affect your actual nighttime ritual. For some, Covid-19 has given much free time to catch up on some great rest needed from the busyness that persisted pre-pandemic. All in all, while rest and naps can be beneficial for recharges, monitor them so they don't begin to interfere with your sleep cycle.
Stay Active and Eat Well
Staying active can be overlooked during this time, especially as more people are staying inside and at home, but much of the research done shows that being active positively effects your sleep. Activities such as walking around your neighborhood or biking are simple ways to stay active. Many gyms and other work out businesses have turned to online classes easy to incorporate into at-home workouts. The Texas Tech REC (8) is open (with preventative Covid-19 measures in mind), but on their social media platforms they also offer free at-home workout videos to stay active!
Watching what you eat can also affect your sleeping habits. It's recommended to eat well and avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks closer to your bedtimes, as those can affect your ability to fall asleep. Make sure you stay hydrated and keep fueling your body to help in the regenerative process of sleep!
Be Kind, Sleep Happy
Yes, being more kind and thoughtful can lower your stress, which overall has a positive impact on your sleep! With our need to stay informed continuously about things and events in our world, it can begin to take a toll on our mental health. Scientists advise that you take time to utilize the technology at hand to make positive connections with family and friends, which can positively affect your sleep.
Contact a Doctor
Despite many tips that these resources have to offer, if you are having trouble falling asleep and it feels that it's not getting better, it is best to reach out to your doctor to make sure you are okay. Texas Tech Student Health Services (9) is open at this time! If you feel your sleep is severe or getting worse, you can use the MyTeamCareNow app for urgent care, schedule a zoom visit for primary care or mental health care, or meet face-to-face by appointment only.
As Covid-19 continues, it's vital that even throughout this stressful moment in history, we are taking the time to listen to our bodies. It's vital to making sure you begin to care for it now rather than when our life becomes busy again. Sleep can look different and feel different for everyone, but the process is significant to each one of our bodies. Taking charge of your sleep cycle is just one step in creating new and healthy habits that lead to a better mental health and well-being. Now go catch up on some ZZZ's!
1. CDC - How Much Sleep Do I Need? - Sleep and Sleep Disorders
2. 1 in 3 adults don't get enough sleep | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC
3. Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 | CDC
4. CDC - Sleep Hygiene Tips - Sleep and Sleep Disorders
5. Sleep Guidelines and Help During the COVID-19 Pandemic | Sleep Foundation
6. How to Reset Your Sleep Routine: Tips & Tricks | Sleep Foundation
7. What is Circadian Rhythm? | Sleep Foundation
8. Recreational Sports | Recreational Sports | TTU
9. Student Health Services | Student Health Services | TTU