With summer maybe not going as planned, some of us working from home or not at all, and all of our schedules upended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to fall out of our normal routines, especially when it comes to sleep.
Stress and depression can manifest in ways that lead to too little and too much sleep (yes, there is such a thing as too much). As is with much in life, getting too much—or too little—of anything can have its side effects.
Though the amount of sleep we need will changes as we age, the CDC recommends that adults get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep a day.
According to Sameh Aziz, M.D., pulmonologist and sleep specialist in Carilion Clinic’s Sleep Center, not getting the proper amount of rest can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, headaches, obesity and stroke.
“There is a bi-directional relationship between sleep disturbance and depression, meaning one can cause the other,” says Dr. Aziz. “Chronic insomnia can also be associated with the development of mood disorders because it can affect your circadian rhythm, which is your internal clock that tells you when to be sleepy or alert.”
Waking up multiple times in the middle of the night and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. Try these five ways to wind down before bedtime:
The light from TVs, laptops, phones, tablets and video games stimulate your brain, which will make it harder to fall asleep.
Take a Hot Bath or Shower
Not only can this be relaxing, but going from warm water to a cooler bedroom can cause your body temperature to drop, making you feel sleepy.
Work out Early
Exercise is a great stress reliever. Try to end intense workouts at least three hours before bedtime.
Try doing yoga, deep breathing or meditation before bedtime.
Write Down Your Worries
Do this earlier in the day and write down what’s keeping you up at night to acknowledge your worries and mentally check them off your list.
Conditions such as narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea can also lead to poor sleep quality. Speak with a sleep specialist if you think you may have one of these conditions.
Though a lot has been added to our list of worries this year, it’s important to remember that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for our health.
After all, the things that are keeping us up at night might be easier to tackle with the right amount of rest.