Sleep is as essential to our bodies as eating, drinking, and breathing. It is also a foundation for maintaining good mental and physical health. Sleeping helps us to recover from mental as well as physical exertion. Sleep and health are strongly related, poor sleep can increase the risk of having poor health and poor health can make it harder to sleep. Our lives have been turned upside down drastically during COVID-19 pandemic times. Everybody has had some degree as we lost control of normalcy and our daily activities. It has even affected our work anxiety levels. This somehow affected our sleeping patterns which led to many people asking what is it that they can do to help them sleep better during these trying times. Here are some of the tips you can use to help yourself sleep better during a pandemic:

Create a schedule

Figure out your sleep need (experiment with different amounts), then prioritize that amount of sleep each night. While six or nine hours can be appropriate for some adults, most need seven to eight hours. We are not obliged to late-night social activities, so getting to bed on time is more realistic right now, just take advantage of that.

Limit screen time at night

Turn off your devices one hour before bedtime. Leave your cell phone charging in the kitchen so you are not tempted to look at COVID-19 updates during the night.

Minimize naps

Daytime sleep should be less than 30 minutes and before 2 p.m. if you have any trouble falling asleep, avoid napping.

Try breathing exercises

use the slow deep breaths to fall asleep and return to sleep. It should be a slow inhale through your nose for 3 to 4 seconds and a slow exhale through your mouth for 3 to 4 seconds.

Enhance your sleep environment

make sure your bedroom environment is conducive to sleep. Keep the room temperature cool; try an eye mask or blackout shades and use a white noise machine to block extraneous noise from the street or the hallway.

Gain control over stress

Many people have less access to their usual coping strategies such as time with friends and going to the gym. Try new activities and hobbies like painting, writing, photography, and indoor exercise videos. Find ways to stay connected with friends and family through technology. Consider counseling if the stress feels unmanageable.

Structure your daytime schedule

commit to daily activities like exercise, meals, socializing at certain times to build a structure to your days. This will support a regular bedtime and wake time. Set cell phone reminders to anchor your schedule and as a reminder to turn off screens an hour before bedtime.

Other benefits of good sleep include a boosted immune system. If you are not getting sufficient sleep, there is also the chance of a weakened immune system. Get in all the slumber that you can, it will make that difference.

BY NETSHONGOLWE RABELANI (B.PSYCH)