During these times of uncertainty and anxiety, there’s one thing we’re just not getting enough of: Sleep.
The stress about what we still don’t know about this pandemic, the layoffs and furloughs, the 24-hour news cycle, and the anxiety about the uncertain future is leading to many sleepless nights.
As we continue to search for answers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot forget the important role that sleep plays in our lives. Making sure we get adequate sleep night after night is crucial to improving our immune systems and defend against viruses and diseases.
Sleep is a natural immune booster and there’s no doubt that getting enough sleep is the key to staying healthy. Sleep helps our immune system function properly:
- Sleep promotes the production of T Cells. T Cells are white blood cells that play a vital role in your body’s immune system response to viruses. If you’re sleep-deprived, T Cells stop responding efficiently, making it difficult for the body to fight against illnesses.
- The immune system’s response time is also improved when you get a good night’s sleep. By completing all the four cycles of sleep, you support the release and production of cytokine, a protein that helps your immune system respond to antigens.
- According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, poor sleep was the number one indicator when determining whether someone would get sick after being exposed to a virus.
Knowing this information in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we can rely on the science of sleep to keep us safe and healthy while getting a good night’s sleep. Here are 5 tips to get better sleep during a pandemic.
1. Unplug all devices 90 minutes before bed.
Give yourself a media cleanse. Turn off the television and log off of social media. You need time to relax and distress, and listening to or reading the news is the exact opposite of that. This will reduce blue light exposure, setting your body up for melatonin production so you can stay on the proper schedule.
With everything going on, it might help to start journaling. Most people tend to think of stressful thoughts when laying in bed at night, but that increases our fight or flight hormones. Physically writing down what you’re thankful for will help you think of positive thoughts, reduce stressful triggers and, above all, help improve sleep.
3. Keep your schedule consistent.
The more you keep your schedule consistent, the more consistent your body function will be. If you’re stuck at home, avoid napping. Frequent naps throughout the day will disrupt your sleep later on at night.
4. Take a hot shower or bath 90 minutes before bed.
Wash off all the germs and increase your core temperature. Hot showers or baths are known to provide a sense of calmness and relief, so it’s important to get in that relaxing state before bed. Your core body temperature will decrease once you’re done and will naturally start producing melatonin.
5. Ensure your home environment is clean.
If possible, it might be a good idea to use HEPA filtration for your bedroom air. Make sure you’re changing your bedsheets twice a week in hot water. Additionally, try to deep clean your bedroom, you’ll be spending a lot more time in there.