How to fix your sleep schedule.



we have interviewed experts and found the best options to help you cope during this uncertain time.


t's no wonder you're stressed out right now: Covid-19 has upended life as we know it, and you're doing your best not to worry about what it all might mean for the future. If all that stress and anxiety is making it increasingly difficult to get a good night's sleep, welcome to the insomnia club.
Adults not only need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but also need to get good-quality sleep by staying asleep long enough to transition through full sleep cycles, including deep sleep, says clinical psychologist and author Whitney Roban, who sits on the advisory board of the American Sleep Association.
"It is during this stage of deep sleep that our brain consolidates and processes information from the day, which is very important during stressful times such as the coronavirus crisis," she says. "The biggest cause of impairment to our quantity and quality of sleep is stress and anxiety. Our brain and our bodies need to be relaxed in order to fall asleep and stay asleep. Our bodies release cortisol in times of stress, which leads to lower melatonin levels and trouble falling asleep, as well as interrupted sleep."
And, Roban adds, as so many of us are living in close quarters, trying to figure out teleworking and home-based learning for our kids amid feelings of worry, it's more important than ever to remain sound in mind and body. "Healthy sleep is a critical factor in doing so," she says.
We asked experts for advice on getting a good night's sleep, which not only repairs and recharges, but helps benefit our physical and mental wellness, according to Judy Ho, a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist and host of the "SuperCharged Life" podcast.
"Sleep is crucial for us to be able to make good decisions, regulate emotions well, be in a better mood, boost immunity, improve attention and memory, lower blood pressure, maintain healthy weight, reduce diabetes and keep our heart healthy," she says. "We need all of the above to be able to withstand the uncertainty that comes with this pandemic."
Here are tips from sleep experts that may help you rest easier tonight.

Put the phone away


"With all the stress and unknowns regarding the covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people are understandably glued to their phones right now, constantly checking news outlets and talking to family members," says certified sleep science coach Matthew Ross, co-founder and COO of The Slumber Yard. "However, constant contact with your phone can hinder both productivity during the day and your sleep quality at night."
Beyond the negative aspects related to blue light, having your phone next to you can make you feel anxious, he adds. "When your phone is within arm's reach, you'll be tempted to check news outlets and think about the current crisis, which will obviously cause stress." He suggests charging your phone in a different room at night. Another way to ensure you won't be reaching for your phone when you should be sleeping: a phone safe.

Stretch before bed


Ross recommends doing some light stretching exercises about 15 to 30 minutes before lying down. "It's often difficult to fall asleep when your muscles are tense and tight, which can happen during times of extreme stress like covid-19 pandemic," he says. "If you go to bed tight, you'll likely end up tossing and turning frequently in order to find a comfortable position. Stretching will help loosen up your muscles and get your body in a relaxed state for sleep."

Wear an eye mask or earplugs


Certified sleep science coach Jason Piper, founder of Build Better Sleep, agrees that while sleep is important all the time, getting proper high-quality sleep during a pandemic will help you to keep your immune system in tip-top shape, handle stress better, improve your mood and be more resilient.
"There are a lot of unknowns right now and being able to flex and bend instead of break will allow you to come out of this better," he says. Sleeping in a completely dark room helps lead to maximum melatonin production, according to Piper.

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Roban also recommends using a sound machine to "drown out loud sounds such as snoring bedmates, noisy neighbors, and any other distracting external noises that may interfere with sleep."

Write in a gratitude journal


Certified sleep expert Martha Lewis, founder and CEO of the Complete Sleep Solution, says taking a few minutes to reflect on your day and think about what you're grateful for can improve sleep. She cites an English study of 400 adults that found gratitude increased the quality of sleep, decreased the time it took to fall asleep, and lengthened how long people slept.
"Since gratitude activates our hypothalamus and our hypothalamus controls our sleep, when we are thankful it makes it easier for us to fall asleep," she says. She recommends using gratitude journals to write down three things you're grateful for every day.

Try blue-light blocking glasses


Lewis says the blue light from screens and light bulbs suppresses melatonin, your sleepy hormone. "Wearing glasses that block that blue light can encourage melatonin production in the evening before bed so you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep all night," she says. "Since they're available on Amazon for $10 a pair [$20.98 for two pairs], it can't hurt to give them a try if you have a hard time falling asleep at night."

Follow a routine


"Try to follow a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up approximately the same time each day," Roban advises. "Our bodies thrive on consistency, and a consistent sleep schedule promotes healthy sleep."
She recommends following a brief and consistent bedtime routine every night. "Do something that relaxes you — yoga stretches, deep breathing, journaling, reading a nondigital book, listening to relaxing music — every night before bed. A consistent bedtime routine will signal to the brain and body that it is time for sleep."
Be sure to take part in both productive hours and relaxation hours, Ho adds — but try to keep them separate.
"It's very easy right now to just mix work and pleasure in all areas of the house," she says. "Make sure you have hours for work — and locations within the home associated with work — and mimic the idea of leaving work where you stop working by early evening or late afternoon and go to the other areas of your house associated with relaxation."

Upgrade your sleeping arrangements


Roban says sleep deprivation has been shown to affect our daily cognitive, emotional, psychological, physical and behavioral functioning. "Sleep deprivation is related to significant medical issues such as a weak immune system, heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and cancer," she says. "It is related to significant emotional issues such as anxiety and depression, and behavioral issues such as inattention, impulsivity, irritability, lethargy and poor memory."