Chances are you have been having difficulty sleeping lately like a lot of other people. If you are sleeping you are probably having unusually strange or vivid dreams, possibly nightmares. Our waking worlds bleed over into our sleeping worlds as our minds try to process and clear the day’s events and turn them into memories. But right now things that are happening around us are causing additional stress, which means that even the mundane everyday things can translate to the strange, scary, or surreal. Getting enough sleep has never been more important – it’s an integral part of our body’s immune defenses – and it’s also never been more difficult for so many people. How can we harness the power of sleep to stay healthy?
Harnessing the Power of Sleep
77% of Americans haven’t been sleeping well since COVID-19 started, and it’s not just because of unemployment - people are planning to get more sleep with their extra time but are finding they just aren’t able.
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Lack of sleep is a serious problem even when there’s not a pandemic. Six out of ten of the leading causes of death in the United States have been linked to a lack of sleep. When we sleep, our bodies take that opportunity to do repairs, attacking antigens and repairing inflamed or injured tissues. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body is left to fight off the previous night’s issues, which can snowball into a serious condition if left to accumulate over time.
In order to regain control of sleep routines, start by ensuring that you are maintaining a regular schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time, and as tempting as it is, avoid naps during the daytime. In your bedroom, make sure the temperature is cool not cold, your shades block outside light during sleeping time, and you have a comfortable place to sleep. Use white noise if you need to drown out outside sounds.
If you still have trouble sleeping, reduce or eliminate caffeine intake and stop consuming caffeine after a certain point in the day - around lunchtime usually works. If you can’t sleep, get up and go into another room for a while and try again later.
If you need additional help, look into meditation apps, yoga, and other stress management techniques. If none of this works, medication for sleeping can be helpful if your doctor is comfortable with it. Any help should be gladly accepted.
Learn more about the power of sleep below.