How to Sleep During a Pandemic
While nearly everyone has had their schedule disrupted in some way since March, it is likely that your sleep has been disrupted as well. I reached out to Molly Mengerink, a Senior Sleep Technologist at Lutheran Hospital, and asked her some questions about sleep during the stay-at-home order.
How much sleep should we be trying to get?
Adults should aim for 6 1/2 -8 hours every day. Adolescents and teens need at least 10 hours a day.
Any advice for people whose anxiety is affecting their sleep?
Stress and anxiety can definitely affect our peace of mind and complicate calming our thoughts at night. Giving ourselves the opportunity to do something physically active during the day helps increase natural endorphins and reduce stress hormones. And if we are spending time sitting around more than normal then having some good stretches and muscle activity is absolutely beneficial. YouTube has home yoga programs, stretches for sleep or for relaxation are good search topics. Getting outside and getting fresh air and sunshine is mentally beneficial. Exposure to early morning sunlight helps keep our internal clock set correctly. Keeping to a schedule can keep things less stressful; it can be different than when you are working outside of the house, but sticking to a schedule will keep things from becoming too complicated in your head. There are multiple counseling services that offer call-in opportunities if you need to talk to someone more in-depth too.
What are some tips to help parents make sure their kids are getting enough sleep? For children, a schedule is the best way to help make sure everyone is resting well. Turn electronic devices off at least an hour before bed, take a warm bath, read a book, go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time. We have the ability to be a bit more flexible with our time and children will be able to revert back to a "school" schedule when we get to go back to school, so it's okay if it's a little different right now.
With many Americans working from home right now, should they nap during the day?
If we are getting the rest that we need during the night, we shouldn't "need" to take a nap during the day. Other cultures and countries embrace the opportunity to rest during our natural low point during the day, usually between 1-3 pm. Taking a mental and physical break is okay! NASA says the ideal length of a nap should be 26 minutes. Any later in the day or any longer can affect the body's want to go to sleep at the correct bedtime.
-Molly Mengerink RPSGT, CCSH
If you want to hear more from Molly about sleep, she was a guest on my podcast "Lagom" back in September. Lagom is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.