The buzz is growing around the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Financial stress, social distancing, unemployment and job insecurity, concern for family and friends, and fear of the illness are now piled on top of the challenges facing us prior to ever hearing of COVID-19. In a previous post we shared the importance of eating a healthy diet in the midst of the pandemic. Now, we turn our attention to another fundamental tool for boosting immunity, improving mental health and experiencing inner renewal: SLEEP.
Sleep as an Antidote to Stress
We can’t avoid stress. And the springboards for stress are compounded to infinity in this season of societal shutdown as we attempt to fend off COVID-19. Yet, finding personal health will require successfully dealing with stress. Drs. Dean & Ayesha Sherzai, of Loma Linda University, write in their book The Alzheimer’s Solution that uncontrolled stress impairs the signaling of immune cells, which diminishes the body’s ability to defend itself against acute diseases. Managing stress is critical to building immunity.
Among the tools the Sherzais share for dealing with stress, restorative sleep rises to the top. Not only does restorative sleep enhance our moods, provide us with the ability to focus, help us learn better, aid coordination and prevent diabetes, restorative sleep also “leads to fewer colds and immune-related disorders.”[i]
Want to be better prepared for the next pandemic? Want to lessen the effects of COVID-19? Taking the step of learning how to achieve restorative sleep will give you a head start.
Techniques for a Better Night’s Sleep
There are ways to improve sleep. Binging on Tiger King in bed is not one of them. Instead, we can improve our sleep by heeding the advice of the Sherzais who share practical techniques for experiencing restorative sleep, including:
- Normalize your sleep schedule
- Avoid eating late at night
- Avoid certain (caffeinated beverages, more than 2 glasses of wine, & citrus juices) drinks too close to bedtime
- Avoid exercising before sleep
- Use low light at night, bright light during the day
- Avoid playing games, watching stimulating movies, and working on your tablet in bed
- Avoid napping
- Use meditation
- Sound and light-proof your bedroom
Nighty Night, -Jack
Want to learn more about sleep? To hear an excellent podcast on the importance of sleep, check out Catalyst Coaching Institute’s podcast and scroll down to #61 with Dr. Alex Agostini – Sleep Secrets: Evidence-based steps to improved sleep. It could be the best 30 minutes of your day. For additional reading on sleep in the age of Coronavirus, see Sleep in the Times of the Coronavirus Pandemic by Meeta Singh MD.
This post is not provided as medical advice. You should consult your physician or other health care professional to determine what guidance is right for your needs
Director of Population Health & Wellbeing
- Population Health
- Corporate Wellness
- Employee Wellbeing
[i] The Alzheimer’s Solution. Drs. Dean & Ayesha Sherzai. P. 208