By Adam Posescu. These days many people spend the night tossing and turning, struggling to stop checking their phones and reading the latest news on the coronavirus.

However, although there is no trick to become immune to the spread of the disease, we do know that sleeping well is essential to keep our bodies healthy.

“Sleeping well is a key part of protecting against and responding to any infection,” said Douglas Kirsch, a neurologist and former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. However, Kirsch understands you perfectly:

“It is difficult to fall asleep when anxiety levels are high, as in the case of a pandemic.”

Come up with a ritual and set a sleep schedule that works for you and stick to them.

The more constant you are with your schedule to get up, the more constant your bodily functions will be.

The United States National Sleep Foundation recommends sticking to a sleep schedule, and below is a simple way to do it: Set a regular bedtime with a wake-up time. (Since there are many people now who are not commuting to work, this could be easier than usual.)

Facilitate this process with small actions: if you sleep when there is still daylight, use curtains that block sunlight; also wear ear plugs or a sleep mask.

How to get more sleep tonight and beat insomnia. | Pxhere

Do whatever it takes to make your room very comfortable and as dark as possible.

Do you wake up easily? Use a fan or play a song on Spotify as white noise.

Still, if you feel tired, sleep when you can. “If you feel tired during the day, rest at that time,” said Janet Mullington, a professor in the Department of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.

Just be careful that naps do not alter your schedule. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist who focuses on the relationship between behavior and sleep, stated that the ideal length of a nap is ten to twenty minutes.

Set a strict usage limit for all your electronic devices.

Stick to your schedule with the help of a strict usage limit for your electronic devices – try not to check your social media, email, and even watch TV 90 minutes before bedtime, Breus said.

“It may be tempting to watch marathons of your favorite shows because you don’t have to get up early to go to work, but prioritizing your dream is more important than ever,” said Kristen Knutson, associate professor, Center for Sleep and Circadian Medicine. from Northwestern University.

If you can’t do it 90 minutes before bed, start with fifteen. And maybe it’s better if you don’t see the movie “Contagion”.

Stay informed, but don’t watch the news just before bed.

Limit the type of media you consume, especially, try not to watch shows that increase your anxiety in the afternoon. This may be the most complicated advice to follow, but also the most sensible: “Watch the news about the coronavirus only once a day, preferably not near your bedtime,” Kirsch recommended.

Turning off notifications on your phone could also be helpful. You can configure your phone to automatically silence notifications at night, if you set a schedule in the “do not disturb” function.

“Isolation can further enhance your desire to stay connected electronically,” said Lisa Medalie, a behavioral medicine specialist in sleep at the University of Chicago, adding that maintaining discipline is essential, which helps reduce distractions and help restore control.

Exercise and speed up your heart rate every day.

This is essential, not only because it makes you tired and prepares you to go to sleep. Exercising also helps you cope with any state of mind you are going through, whether you are sick or not: anxiety, nervous energy. Kirsch commented that:

“This can be as simple as taking a walk in the neighborhood or exercising with a video at home.” (If you go for a walk, stay two meters away from other people).

Exercising at home may be the best, and safest, way to raise your heart rate.

Manage anxiety with gratitude, breathing, meditation, and perhaps medication.

Many people think of stressful things when they are falling asleep. That fuels a cycle of anxiety. Instead, make a mental or paper list of things you should be grateful for.

Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. In a comfortable position, with your eyes open or closed: inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale slowly for eight seconds. Then repeat as many times as necessary.

Consider progressive meditation or relaxation before bed or while you fall asleep. There are many free podcasts.

Kirsch suggested taking a few moments throughout the day to step aside and do some deep breathing exercises: “Even people who don’t usually have anxiety may be having a bad time.”

“It is difficult to sleep when the anxiety level is high, so trying to manage anxiety levels during the day can also benefit night sleep.”

Also, if you suffer from anxiety, go to a clinic, doctor or mental health professional. Debilitating anxiety is a disease.

Do not eat before bed and do not drink to sleep.

You may now have a new routine. Another cup of coffee, or an earlier happy hour through Zoom, can help you work late. Yes, coffee is healthy in moderation (up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day), but a higher amount can cause tremors, nervousness, and an irregular pulse.

Although alcohol makes you sleepy, it does not produce quality rest. Alcohol “causes fragmentation of sleep,” Kirsch explained.

Don’t eat just before bed. The symptoms of heartburn or GERD are quite unpleasant, but could be confused with those of anxiety, which produces even more anxiety.

Do you feel like you have no control over what you eat or drink? Start keeping a food diary, to know what you are really consuming.

Take a hot shower or bath 90 minutes before bed. Wash your sheets!

Raising your temperature and then lowering it helps produce melatonin. One way to meet your electronic usage limit is to pair it with a hot shower, both of which prepare you for a night of rest.

While you take care of your body, take care of your space. If possible, use high-efficiency HEPA filter air purifiers in your bedroom, wash your sheets twice a week, and do a nightly cleaning in your home, particularly in your bedroom. You are probably spending more time there than ever; This can promote peace of mind and reduce anxiety.

What if you feel sick?

If you are fighting an infection, your body needs plenty of rest to heal quickly. For starters, he sleeps two hours longer than usual, Breus said.

Improve resting conditions: use a wedge-shaped pillow or additional pillows to keep the chest elevated and avoid further congestion and retronasal discharge.

That night shower or bath can keep your body cool and create a better sleeping environment. Change your clothes and sheets frequently to control the spread of bacteria or viruses.

“Focus on getting adequate sleep, stay hydrated, and manage symptoms to recover,” Medalie said. “During this uncertain time, work on what you can control: your sleep habits.”

So why is it important to sleep well in the end?

This is what we know about the importance of sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends getting seven to eight hours a night.

A 2015 study revealed a direct relationship between shorter sleep periods and an increased risk of catching a cold in healthy adults ages 18 to 55; specifically, those who sleep less than five hours or between five and six hours are more likely to contract a virus than those who sleep seven hours a night.

According to Medalie, the science is simple: a good night’s sleep encourages the release and production of cytokine, a protein that helps the immune system respond quickly to antigens, which are those foreign substances that make the body’s immune response is activated.

Various objects used before bedtime, in New York in October 2019. (David Brandon Geeting / The New York Times)

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