Healthy Sleep Routines For Your Mind and Body
As Oregonians await reopening and a return to normalcy, many of us are experiencing restlessness that can influence both our energy during the day and our ability to get quality sleep at night. Social distancing has made adjusting and sticking to a daily schedule difficult, and people can easily lose sense of time without normal cues like coming home from the office or being exposed to natural light.
Many factors can be playing a role in peoples’ lack of quality sleep, including anxiety and worry about the pandemic, depression from isolation, stress about work, and the excess time we are spending in front of screens. Whether you are oversleeping or suffering from insomnia due to coronavirus, sleep is an important part of living a healthy life that should not be overlooked.
Why is Sleep Important
Sleep plays a fundamental role in your overall mental and physical health. While you are sleeping, your body and mind are in a very active state where your muscles are growing, cells are repairing, and your body is fighting off infection.
Sleep is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic because of its physical and mental benefits, such as:
- Boosting your immune system. During a good night of sleep, our body is strengthening its defenses. A lack of sleep can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
- Heightening brain function. Memory, focus, complex thinking, learning, and decision making are all improved when you are receiving quality sleep.
- Boosting your mood. In fact, lack of sleep can make you irritable, negatively affect your energy levels, and cause or worsen feelings of depression.
- Improving your overall mental health.
Sleep improves not only the length of your life, but the quality of your life. It is important to prioritize quality sleep to help both your physical and mental health.
How to Improve Your Sleep
It is commonly known that adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and youth and children should aim for even more. While everything around us may be changing, it is important to your mental, emotional, and physical health not to let the pandemic disrupt normal routines like your sleep schedule. A good, healthy schedule should include:
- Wake-up time: It can be tempting to sleep in without the structure of going to the office. Instead, set an alarm and resist that snooze button at a fixed time every day. Get out of bed and don’t get back in until it’s time to sleep. Even though you aren’t leaving the house, still take time to shower and get ready as if you had a packed schedule full of important activities.
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner time: Don’t allow yourself and your family to eat whatever you want whenever you want. Plan meals and stick to mealtimes for your health and the health of your family and to keep digestive routines in place.
- A time to exercise: 30 minutes of exercise every day is not only a vital part of a healthy lifestyle, but will also make your body tired and ready to sleep when you hit that pillow.
- Wind-down time: Setting a relaxing wind-down time before bed acts as a cue for your body. During this time, you can change into your pajamas, brush your teeth, wash your face, and participate in any kind of relaxing activity that doesn’t involve a screen, such as reading, meditating, or listening to a podcast.
- Bed time: Even though you may not necessarily have to wake up early for a meeting or to take your kids to school like usual, a strict, consistent bedtime is still something you should hold yourself and your family to. Reserve your bed for bedtime — it will create an association in your mind between bed and sleep.