Remember those early days of quarantine when we relished wearing pjs all day and sleeping in? While novel and wonderful at the time (if you forgot there was a killer virus on the loose), all of this lounging and dozing came with a few downsides.
One of the most annoying negatives we’re noticing is a change in our sleep patterns. Binge-watching shows until the wee hours and sleeping late has made it harder for us to get back into the swing of things now that life is returning to a new sense of “normal.”
Some of us have to get up on time to work, drive the kids to school, or help monitor their remote lessons. Now that we’re struggling to fall (and stay) asleep at night, this is becoming a bit harder. Don’t worry; we can help.
Here are five things you need to STOP doing today to undo the damage caused by a lax pandemic sleep routine.
In the beginning, this was helpful at combating sleep deprivation. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, for instance, found that sleeping in on the weekend can reduce sleepiness and cortisol levels. Over time, however, oversleeping can cause negative effects.
Limit your sleep-ins to once or twice a week and set an alarm so you don’t stay in bed for too long. Just an hour extra is enough to feel better rested.
If you’re hoping to improve your sleep, though, it’s time to limit the number of drinks you consume daily (no more than one). And don’t consume any alcohol four hours or less before you intend to fall asleep.
According to a study by JMIR Mental Health, consuming two drinks a day is enough to reduce the quality of your sleep by 40 percent. Even drinking less than half a glass can cut our sleep quality by over 9 percent. While drinking alcohol may help you fall asleep (by releasing adenosine—a sleep-inducing chemical in the brain), it can also cause you to awaken in the middle of the night.
Instead of exercising, try stretching before bed. A few light, gentle stretches can help ease your mind as well as those tight spots that creep in when you’re stressed.
Reading or watching the news or an upsetting or exciting show (be it on the TV or a smaller device) can cause more stress and anxiety, further messing with your ability to fall asleep.