It is no secret that restful sleep is essential for promoting a healthier immune system, improving your mood, and maximizing the productivity in your day. Sleep is also vital to your self-care in recovery. However, ever since the shelter-in-place orders went into effect, many people are experiencing difficulty sleeping. For someone in recovery, this could be seen as an opportunity to turn to alcohol or drugs to help. However, this is not only counterproductive to your long-term recovery, but alcohol and drugs can have a negative effect on sleep.
Create a Sleep Schedule
Try to find the amount of sleep you need to wake up refreshed and recharged. The amount of sleep varies from person to person—you might only need six hours of restful sleep, or you might need as much as eight to nine hours. Whatever the number may be, you will want to figure this out. A good sleep schedule can assist you in identifying this. Since you are sheltering in place, it might be easy to stay up a little later each night, which will ultimately throw your sleep schedule and pattern out of sync.
Setting a bedtime is the beginning of learning how much sleep your body needs. Understand that it might take some adjustment to fall asleep around that time, but the effort is to be in bed at this time, whether it is 8, 9, or 10 pm. Also, note that you will want to look at the rest of your schedule to evaluate what you are doing right before bed.
Preparing for a Good Night’s Rest
Once you have arrived at a good time to set your bedtime, start looking at what you are doing or have been doing in your day, leading up to bedtime. You will want to replace any counter-intuitive activities with activities that will get you into a relaxed state of mind and ready for sleep.
Most people like to fall asleep while watching TV or reviewing information on their smartphone. However, screens could keep us awake longer—especially cell phone screens. Cell phone screens are backlit with a fluorescent light which tricks the brain into thinking it is daylight, which in turn could keep you wired to stay up longer. Staring at a phone while trying to fall asleep is counterproductive to the process, because not only can it prolong you trying to fall asleep, but it will affect the overall quality of your sleep. If you are someone who likes to watch videos or read through social media on their phone in bed, try leaving your phone in another room or somewhere across the room in your bedroom where you will have to get out of bed to access it, such as a dresser.
Relax an Hour Before Bed
This is the time to take for yourself. Limit your electronic engagement to little or none. Wrap up all conversations with friends and family. Use this time to create a relaxing atmosphere. Light candles and take a bath or shower. Listen to calming music, read, or use this time to meditate. Breathing exercises are also great for relaxation. You can perform these exercises in bed by taking ten deep breaths and exhaling slowly. Deep breathing helps alleviate muscle tension, which aids in reducing anxiety. Any or all of these practices will help to compress and relieve your thoughts of the stresses that might be weighing on your mind.
Enhance Your Sleep Environment
Your sleep environment should be separate from your work and play environments. Certainly, during these times it might be hard, but you will want to do your best to create an environment that is conducive to sleep. If you are using your bedroom as a home office right now, shut down and put away all reminders of work. Store the laptop and files in a bin or drawer, or even clear a space in the closet where you can easily access and stow them away. If you have a bright street light or morning sun peeking through your blinds, try replacing them or hanging room darkening curtains. Room darkening curtains will not only keep the light out, but they will help hold in the cool air in the summer and the heat in the winter. You might also consider using an eye mask to block out light. A lot of people like white noise to focus on while blocking out other distracting sounds. A humidifier or an air-purifying fan can both be great for white noise, as well.
One of the contributing factors to why you’re not sleeping well is because there is too much information about—information overload. This might be challenging your coping skills and affecting your entire day. For starters, monitor and ration the amount of information you are taking in. Replace some of that time with other forms of media or activity that do not discuss the current situation. Since you have limited outlets to your normal coping strategies, think about ways to exercise from home, or take up a new hobby.
Create a schedule that can sustain itself, allowing you the right balance and amount of activities that will not overwhelm you. Sleep is the crux of any good regimen. You begin and end each day with sleep. When creating a new schedule, understand that there will be a period of adjustment—remember to stay consistent and you will adapt.
If you are still having difficulty sleeping or managing your stress, know that you are not alone. This is a difficult and unique situation for people all around the world. True Recovery understands this and offers 24/7 assistance for those needing guidance. We believe that no two people are the same, and our intention is to find the kind of care you need. To get help today, please call us at (866)-399-6528.