How to get a better night’s sleep when you’re worried about COVID-19

Sleep experts share strategies to try tonight

MADISON, Wis.– Even though it feels like our lives have slowed down, sleep is as important as ever. Doctors know that sleep is directly tied to immunity. If we’re not sleeping, we lower our immune systems, which makes us more likely to get sick.

We not only need sleep, but quality sleep. Here are a few ways sleep experts say you can achieve that:

  1. Limit your news intake. Choose one or two times a day to check for updates, and then focus on other things. The time of day you’re getting your news matters too. Watching the news right before bed can make you more anxious. Instead, do something that helps you wind down- like reading a book or taking a bath.
  2. Get on a schedule and try to stay on it. The wake-up time is especially important. Sleep experts say not to deviate by more than an hour. Eat meals at regular times, and don’t eat big meals close to bedtime. Stick with your regular morning and evening routines – showers, tooth brushing, face washing, etc. – that cue your body to wake up or fall asleep.
  3. Make sure your home is set at the right temperature. Sleep experts say temperature is the number one reason people aren’t getting a good night’s rest. Anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees is ideal. If those numbers sound too low for you, they suggest easing your way there and layering up with lots of blankets.
  4. Don’t worry in bed. If you’ve spent more than ten minutes worrying at the end of the day, take your brain, and body, somewhere else. Sleep experts suggest having a “nest” set up in another room with a book, a podcast, or restful music (no TV or phones) to read or listen to when you can’t sleep.
  5. Try meditation. Mindful meditation and breathing techniques help you focus on the now instead of the future. Click here for a link to several of the top-rated meditation apps. Here is one exercise to try: Lie on your back with one hand on your stomach and the other on your heart. Inhale deeply through your nose for 4 to 6 seconds, like you’re blowing up a big balloon. When your lungs are full, pause, then exhale through your nose in a long, smooth motion. Pause again, and repeat until you feel ready to sleep.

Sleep experts agree it’s important to remember you’re not alone, you’re doing everything you can, and there are some things you just can’t control.

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