This blog post is part of a series of #WellnessWednesday tips provided by the Landon wellness team to help our community stay healthy during distance learning. The team shares how good sleep can contribute to your wellness.
Healthy sleep needs to be a priority in these difficult and challenging times. There are many reasons why good sleep is so important. Healthy sleep preserves and boosts our immune functions. Healthy sleep helps us think clearly, solve problems, and keep us focused. Healthy sleep helps maintain our emotional composure when we are feeling anxious and uncertain. And healthy sleep promotes better management of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and depression.
What are the key factors to achieve healthy sleep?
- It’s helpful to know the right amount for your age. For adults, it’s 7-8 hours. For adolescents, you should be sleeping 8-10 hours. Elementary-aged children should get 9-11 hours of sleep.
- We need to work with our biological 24-hour clock and understand our body’s circadian rhythm.
- Avoid sleep disruptions that prevent you from getting high-quality sleep.
Here are 10 tips to promote restorative and refreshing sleep:
Maintain a sleep schedule. Set a schedule that is consistent at bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends. This helps regulate our body’s natural clock, helps us fall asleep, and stay asleep for the night.
Go outside. Staying inside decreases our sunlight exposure and makes it difficult for our body to maintain its natural body clock. It is best to get sunlight in the morning; this helps our body and mind keep the daytime/nighttime schedule.
Implement a relaxing bedtime routine. This lets our body and brain separate sleep time from the excitement, stress, or anxiety from our day’s activity. Our body needs to shift into sleep mode so spend the last hour before bed winding down by doing a calming activity such as reading.
Take a nap. This might be a good idea if you are sleepy during the day and can find time in your schedule. Naps need to be short and must not last longer than 20 minutes. Too much napping can backfire and make it difficult to sleep at night. If daytime napping interferes with nighttime sleep, avoid it all together.
Exercise daily. This helps you “earn” your sleep. Vigorous exercise is best, but any activity is better than zero activity.
Evaluate your room to promote an optimal sleep environment. Temperature in the bedroom should be cool, about 60-67 degrees. Avoid noises that can disturb your sleep. Ear plugs and noise canceling machines are helpful to block out any unwanted noise. Your bedroom should be dark and free from light. If necessary, use blackout shades/curtains or eye masks to minimize any unwanted to light.
Avoid using electronic devices in bed. The blue light from the screen mimics daylight and will have stimulating effects. Not only will this disrupt our natural circadian rhythm but will interfere with our ability to fall asleep. All devices should be powered down at least 30 minutes before bed.
Attempt to manage your stress and worries. Avoid reading news or other anxiety provoking material before bed. Reading a work email right before bed can keep us with stress. For those middle of the night wakeups, try not to solve problems at 3 a.m. Keep a notebook by your bed to jot down those worrisome thoughts and then try to go back to sleep. If you still can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing. Once you feel tired, return to bed.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and heavy meals late in the evening. These can all interfere with healthy sleep.
Contact a healthcare professional if needed. They can to help you evaluate your patterns and issues if you’re still having trouble sleeping.
The current situation we are living and experiencing may contribute to sleep disruptions and difficulties. We encourage you to use these strategies to help promote healthy sleep and optimize good sleep habits. Sleep is an essential function for our physical and mental health. Let’s make sleep a priority!