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The As to Zs of Sleep

By: Leah Sycoff

Sleep… we never got any, but now we have time to catch up. Why can’t we sleep? How does it feel when you know you are not getting enough sleep? Did someone in your home have to sit on you, put ice cubes down your shirt, or thump you in the head to get you to open your eyes? How does it feel to not have to rise at the crack of dawn anymore? You do know that it has been a debate for years to try to move the school day to a later time granting teens the necessary sleep they need to grow and be healthy, but too bad the buck stops there. It was never even a possibility until this March. When you have not gotten enough sleep were your emotions like waves of the ocean coming and going in laughs and cries? This would be a normal outcome since a lack of sleep is tantamount to intoxication. During normal school time, it seemed like we were going and going and going with no time to sleep, but now, we have more than enough time to sleep and relax, so why can’t we do it?

Studies prove that during the COVID-19 quarantine, we are consumed by both straightforward and subconscious signs of stress, rifting our sleep cycles and making it difficult to fall asleep. Since emotions and sleep are closely correlated, anxiety and insomnia come hand-in-hand. Additionally, a lack of sleep causes harm to the immune system. Now it is more important than ever to keep your immune system strong and ready to fight any disease that could push you into harm’s way, like the Coronavirus. 

We always hear that the proper amount of sleep is vital, but why is it? Sleep allows your body to function properly. It reduces your risk of disease while also amplifying your brain’s ability to remove harmful toxins rendering thoughts clear and available. Sleep can also improve cognition, concentration, and productivity. Healthy slumber even has a direct correlation to weight gain and loss. A good dose of forty winks is also known to lead to improved emotional and social intelligence, decreasing your ability to fall into depression. A lack of sleep can make you feel dissatisfied and unsatiated leading to a tendency to overeat. Correct hormone production also requires that you close your eyes and rest. So, here are some ways to improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep for the prescribed eight to ten hours nightly:

  1. Do not eat right before you are going to bed, but if you cannot resist a delectable late-night snack, consider some delicious melatonin enhancing snacks, such as tart cherries or chamomile tea with (almond) milk.
  2. Avoid caffeine six hours prior to laying your head on the pillow.
  3. Consider utilizing essential oils in a diffuser with scents such as lavender, chamomile, bergamot, and clary sage.
  4. Try to stay away from blue light. Either put away your phone at night and prohibit television or invest in blue light glasses. I ordered a pair from Felix Gray.
  5. Give yourself a nice meditation session or practice some yoga right before bed. There are many great meditation apps; I prefer the app called Calm.
  6. Before sleepytime, take a nice warm shower and wrap yourself in a fluffy robe. Enjoy the clean sock feeling – there is nothing like it!
  7. Listen to some calming music right before you snooze; maybe try googling classical music for a perfect night’s relaxation or simply play some calm instrumental tunes.
  8. During the day, put fresh sheets on your bed so when you go to sleep they smell and feel amazing.
  9. Work out during the day in order to improve your ability to fall asleep; your blood will flow and regulate your body temperature.
  10. Try to skip napping during the day, but if you have to, do not shut your eyes for more than 15 minutes.
  11. Spend some time in the fresh outdoors, it will for sure make you sleep like when you were a baby. 
  12. Keep your room cool at night, about 68 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
  13. Consider investing in a blackout curtain. I just did and wow wow wow!
  14. If you have a dimmer light switch, slowly dim it over time to mimic the sun setting because the circadian rhythm follows the flow of light. 

Give some of these suggestions a try in the upcoming weeks, and you will see how your sleep pattern changes and makes so many other facets of your life better. So, sleep tight, and let’s hope the bed bugs don’t bite!

Photo courtesy of Google images.