Article at a Glance:
- A new coronavirus called COVID-19 is now the fourth pandemic to affect the globe in the past 100 years.
- Coronaviruses affect mammals, birds and humans – some of which are more dangerous than others.
- The pathology of coronaviruses, including COVID-19, indicates that cytokine storms lead to extremely high levels of proflammatory cells, multi-organ damage and weakened immune systems.
- Melatonin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help the cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients subside when used alongside other anti-inflammatory treatments.
For people all across the globe, the start of a new year is seen as an opportunity for self-improvement, adjusting lifestyle habits, and making the most of personal change by setting New Year’s resolutions. Health-related goals are some of the most common — eating better, losing weight, exercising more, abstaining from alcohol or cigarettes are just a few that often make the list. Sleep, in comparison, doesn’t get the same notoriety, but we think it should because it is a critical component of health and wellness. Consistent, quality sleep directly influences your mental, physical, and emotional well-being the next day. It is also connected to self-control, which is a key factor in bringing personal goals to fruition. So, what are you waiting for? Here are seven actionable steps that you can take to sleep better so you can feel and function your best.
Make quality sleep a priority
It sounds simple, but sometimes it really isn’t. Things like stress, work issues, family matters, or other life events can make keeping a routine seemingly more difficult. The key here is to remember that having a productive day and feeling good during waking hours really starts with getting quality sleep the night before. In order to plan ahead, you need to plan for sleep first. Be sure to block out 7-9 hours in your daily schedule that is dedicated to sleep only.
(Re)organize your bedroom
If you use your bedroom as a multi-purpose place, your brain and body might have a hard time distinguishing between when you’re supposed to rest, work, or play. Try to keep all work activities outside of these four walls; that means don’t stay up too late with your laptop in bed and move your desk to another room that can serve as your work area. This will turn your bedroom into a calm and peaceful environment and will help your brain avoid staying in the doing mode so that you can fall and stay asleep.
Invest in Sleep-Hacking Glasses
The lighting in your environment directly influences your natural circadian rhythm. Overexposure to artificial junk light — especially right before bedtime — confuses your brain and body about what time it is and will continue to stimulate your brain. If you’ve ever felt that “wired and tired” feeling, pay attention to the lighting all around you, and be proactive about protecting your eyes from it. Sleep-hacking glasses that block blue, green, and violet light are recommended to help put your brain into an alpha (or meditative) state so that you can fall asleep faster and rest more deeply.
Use healthier lighting options throughout your home
Keeping with the theme of minimizing junk light exposure before bedtime, there are fortunately healthier lighting options for illuminating your home in the hours leading up to sleep. Look for circadian-friendly lightbulbs, like the TrueLight Luna Red Sunset Bulb, which has adjustable color temperature settings (from 3000K-1000K) and is dimmable. This bulb mimics what you would otherwise see while watching a sunset. The warmer red light signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with TrueDark sleep-hacking glasses.
Blackout your bedroom when you’re ready to sleep
This is important for everyone, but it’s especially relevant for shift workers that work outside of the typical 8 am-5 pm workday, and that need to get some shut-eye while the sun is still up. Since the presence of light acts as a stimulant to keep you awake and alert, you want to be proactive about blacking out your bedroom when you’re ready to get some rest. Consider installing blackout curtains and covering up power light sources (e.g. on your computer or television screen, on power cords and outlets).
Make your bedroom cooler at night
Like light, the temperature is also an important factor when it comes to keeping your natural circadian rhythm in sync. Your natural body temperature dips around 4 a.m., and this helps you preserve energy. Keeping your bedroom cooler typically makes it easier to fall and stay asleep (as opposed to sleeping in warmer temperatures that might lead to night sweats). Cooldown your room at night with black-out curtains and a fan or air conditioning. Additionally, keeping your bedroom door open slightly so that air can continue to flow throughout the house, will help prevent your bedroom from getting too stuffy.
Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine is a drug that acts as a stimulant, both mentally and physically. It not only makes falling and staying asleep more difficult, but it can also cause the need to urinate during the middle of the night. Alcohol is also best to be avoided for at least 4 hours before bedtime as it’s associated with more frequent awakenings, night sweats, nightmares, and headaches. By reducing and appropriately timing your consumption of both caffeine and alcohol, you’ll have more control over your natural circadian rhythm. Subsequently, you’ll have a better chance of falling and staying asleep.
Invest in a new mattress
Consider this: you spend one-third of your life sleeping on your mattress. So, it’s wise to invest in a sleep surface that promotes deeper, quality rest. Older and damaged mattresses can cause issues ranging from neck and back pain to insomnia. If your mattress is on the older side, it may be time to invest in a new one. And don’t assume that the more expensive it is, the more comfortable it will be. Everyone is different and has their own preferences; your comfort in your own sleep environment is a priority, so it’s okay to be picky!