Focus on Quality Sleep During the Pandemic
Ever heard the saying, “Sleep is the best medicine?” A similar worded proverb exists in almost every culture — and for good reason.
Sleep is an important pillar of a strong immune system. It’s nature’s way of helping your body fend off attackers — something we all need right now during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quality sleep helps protect you from illness, keeps your immune system healthy and helps you recover faster if you do become ill. Quality sleep is also a natural immune booster, increasing your focus, mood and ability to manage stress.
So, the focus should be on getting the best QUALITY sleep you possibly can. Even if you aren’t getting the number of hours your body needs per night, make sure the hours you get are the best possible quality they can be. You don’t want junk sleep!
How? Keep reading …
Are You Getting Quality Sleep During the Pandemic?
With anxiety over the economy, worry about work and family and the stress and continued isolation of the global pandemic (stock market fluctuations, furloughs and childcare or school worries), is it any wonder we are not sleeping well?
“My sleep was so interrupted that my husband wanted me to see a sleep therapist,” says Shannon Huffman Polson, founder of The Grit Institute, a training resource for whole-leader development, a speaker and author of “The Grit Factor.”
Not only is sleep essential for healthy cognitive functions, it also assists in maintaining a balance of the hormones for both physical health and emotional well-being. For decades, a solid body of research has shown that a healthy lifestyle depends on getting quality sleep. Research shows that good sleep can be a natural immunity booster, and that adequate amounts of sleep are needed for optimal resistance to infectious diseases, particularly when coupled with diet and exercise.
According to Health Affairs, up to 70% of our health is related to behavior, environment and physical influences. Quality sleep is critical to our well-being and fundamental to our health. It is the most basic of human needs, and yet most people are just beginning to understand its value. Lack of sleep has also been linked to several diseases and conditions prevalent today, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and depression. Not getting enough quality sleep can also lead to injuries and disabilities caused by accidents on the road and at work. Numerous studies have found that insufficient sleep can impact everything from weight gain to mood regulation to general brain health. Moreover, lack of adequate sleep over time has been associated with a shortened lifespan.
But while logging the needed 7-9 hours nightly is noteworthy, getting the best quality sleep possible is crucial to keeping your immune system in fighting form. Good news is Sleep Number research shows that Sleep Number® bed owners get almost an hour’s more sleep per night than the average sleeper.*
We have compiled some ways to improve the quality of your shut-eye as we continue to adapt to the COVID-19 fallout:
Block the Blue Light
One of the best ways to prepare your body for a great night’s sleep is to turn off devices one hour before bedtime.
“You’ve heard that it’s best to avoid screen use near bedtime (and when you can’t sleep), but it’s fine to use an e-reader if you have blocked the blue light on this device and if you read your e-book using the “night setting” (white letters on a black background),” says Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, fellow, American Academy of Sleep Medicine and assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine and director of the Behavioral Sleep Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
This will avoid exposure to the blue light that can make you feel too wakeful at night, Schneeberg adds.
Take a Short Nap If Needed
You might be avoiding a daytime nap after a bout of poor sleep, but Schneeberg says it’s actually fine to take a short daytime nap for 30 minutes or less when you slept poorly the night before.
“A short nap does not cause an issue for your nighttime sleep as long as it’s brief and as long as you take it early in the afternoon.”
Your body releases a bit of melatonin in the afternoon as if it expects a nap. So, taking a short nap after lunch might help you sail through your afternoon and evening, won’t jinx your nighttime sleep and will aid in building up immunity.
For more about naps, read this article.
Keep Pen and Paper at Your Bedside
It encourages a “mind dump” of any residual thoughts that are getting in the way of sleep, and can be used again, if racing thoughts lead to waking up in the middle of the night, explains Michelle Pargman, Ed.S. LMHC, a Jacksonville, Florida, based therapist.
“Commit to writing the thoughts down, not judge them, and address them later,” Pargman says.
Here’s a great article that digs into why writing a to do list before bed can help you sleep better.
Evaluate Your Mattress
How old is your mattress? Do you wake up sore? Do you and your partner agree on mattress firmness or are you both tossing and turning? Do you sleep hot or cold? Does one of you snore? The right mattress, like Sleep Number 360® smart beds, is not only shown to give you up to one hour more of sleep each night*, it can prove it through the bed’s SleepIQ® technology. Your health & wellness are worth investing in to help you take care of yourself so you’ll be your best to help take care of others.
Surrender Without Judgment
The more anxious you make yourself about not sleeping, the more sleep may elude you. So drop the internal dialogue about what a horrible day you’ll have tomorrow if you don’t get to sleep immediately.
“The key to sound sleep lies in surrendering, not in trying harder,” says Nancy Gerstein, a yoga teacher, author and speaker.
Once in bed, focus on your breath with deep exhales. If you have a mantra, let your mind rest in it. Try repeating “deep sleep,” “good night,” or “relax.”
Start with Small Changes
Making small adjustments to your sleep routine can help you get the quality sleep you need and keep your immune system in top shape.
“I attributed my poor sleep to stress and possibly middle age,” Polson says. But with the changes she’s made, she’s now able to go to sleep and stay asleep most nights for the first time since she had children.
If you’re looking for other ways to help you have more energy during the day and boost your immunity, try the free Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number to improve your bedtime habits. While 82% of participants experience better sleep quality, 74% improve or change a poor sleep habit.
Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal well-being and performance. Because everyone’s sleep needs are different, Sleep Number 360® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night’s sleep.
*Based on self-reported hours of sleep from a general population survey compared to SleepIQ® sleeper data.