Most people know rest is important in an abstract sense, but just how crucial getting enough quality sleep is to your physiological as well as mental health cannot be understated. With SARS-CoV-2 going around, it can be easy to relegate sleep to the backburner and not pay it as much attention. But it’s as important as ever - if not even more. Insufficient sleep can have a profound negative affect on your immune system - studies show that those who don’t sleep enough are more likely to get a viral infection than those who do.
Additionally, according to scientist Dr. Piotr Wozniack, “each year sleep disorders add $16 billion to national health-care costs (e.g. by contributing to high blood pressure and heart disease). That does not include accidents and lost productivity at work.” I know from personal experience during my service term that I tend to have a better mood and feel better overall when my sleep schedule is in order.
There can be many obstacles that can prevent you from getting the quality and amount of sleep you need. Here are some concrete steps you can implement to get your sleep hygiene in order.
Have a consistent bedtime routine
- Constant variation in the times you go to sleep and wake up can wreak havoc. Establishing a sense of normalcy in your bedtime routine is a positive method of re-establishing a healthy daily habit during these times of uncertainty.
Limit or reduce the effects of artificial light.
- When your eyes receive light, chemical signals tell your pineal gland to produce less melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy and regulates your sleep wake cycle.
- If you can’t avoid looking at a screen 30 minutes or so before bedtime, invest in an app such as Blue Light Filter - Night Mode, or f.lux that adjust your device's display.
Don’t spend all day inside
- Now more than ever it’s important to still try to get some natural light. Often, the more natural light you get, the better your chances of getting good sleep.
When you’re not getting adequate and proper sleep, you’re likely not living up to your full physical or mental capabilities, hurting your capacity to help yourself throughout the day. Treat sleep with the respect it deserves, and your body, mind, and others will thank you!