During the COVID pandemic, many people are struggling to maintain healthy sleeping habits for a variety of reasons. Our work and social lives increasingly rely on screens, our homes (and sometimes bedrooms) may now be our workplaces, and our normal routines have been disrupted. Additionally, many people are suffering from increased stress.
Below are 3 strategies for promoting healthy sleep, with some tips that may help you actually carry out the strategies!
1. Get on a Regular Schedule
Being on a regular sleep schedule is very important because it allows your body to develop an internal clock that will help you naturally fall asleep and wake up on time. To develop a regular sleep schedule, it might help to:
- Set alarms to remind you when it’s bedtime (and time to wake up)
- Avoid naps during the day
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine 4-6 hours before bedtime
2. Stop Using Screens a Half Hour Before Bedtime
Exposure to blue light from our screens before bed impedes sleep by reducing the release of sleep hormones and disrupting the circadian (sleep) rhythm. Here are some tips that may help you have success in putting down your screen before bed and decreasing the negative effects screens can have on your sleep:
- Leave your phone to charge in a room other than your bedroom
- Set a daily alarm to remind you when screen time should end
- Use an Internet-blocking app (several exist that will block certain websites during a set period of time)
- Listen to calming music, ASMR or mindfulness content instead of watching videos late at night
- Switch your phone to a “nighttime” mode to reduce blue light (many phones have this feature)
3. Only Use Your Bed for Sleeping
With many people spending more time at home and working at home, it may be tempting to work or do other activities in bed. It is best to avoid this so that you associate your bed only with sleep/relaxation, and not with work or entertainment. Some ways to prevent yourself from slipping into bed during the day are:
- Make your bed right when you get up. Tuck in the sheets/blankets!
- Never bring chargers next to your bed. This will make it less tempting to bring a computer/phone over to your bed. You can also block outlets with objects
- Move the TV out of your bedroom
Irish, L. A., Kline, C. E., Gunn, H. E., Buysse, D. J., & Hall, M. H. (2015). The role of sleep hygiene in promoting public health: A review of empirical evidence. Sleep medicine reviews, 22, 23-36.
Tähkämö, L., Partonen, T., & Pesonen, A. K. (2019). Systematic review of light exposure impact on human circadian rhythm. Chronobiology international, 36(2), 151-170.
By: Jordan Levine, PsyD, Supervised by Misti Nicholson, PsyD