Falling asleep is just another routine that for many, has been suspended in times of coronavirus. Spending the whole day in the same space (which is usually small), having single-topic conversations, or turning the dizzy numbers of infected or deceased around are some of the concerns that continue to haunt us when we go to bed. If we also have a sick family member or we are infected ourselves, things get complicated. Not to mention the uncertain economic future that awaits us and that also steals hours from Morpheus. These days we have plenty of reasons to justify an uncomfortable rest, but there are also ways to combat this temporary insomnia.
Normally, most of the population has a rest of lesser quantity and quality these days. If we also have nightmares, which are nothing but anxious dreams, they can even wake us up and therefore eliminate rest time. We all dream, but if we now do more, it is because brain metabolic activity is greater and this is usually associated with a less regenerative effect of sleep.
Nightmares can help us to release and express our fears and anxieties. When we are going through a stressful time in our lives, that stress is reflected and amplified in our dreams, but the nightmares we are having should not be scary. They can exercise alertness, warning us that anxiety is getting out of hand. Dreaming of tornadoes, strong wave tides, floods, house fires, plane crashes, or car brakes that don’t work are some of the most common nightmares in anxiety situations.
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What to do, then, try to rest despite the circumstances?
1. Do cardiovascular exercise. Cardiovascular physical activity is much more beneficial these days than practicing disciplines such as yoga. In a small house it is not always easy, but it is worth betting on cardiovascular exercise four to six hours before bedtime because it accelerates the heart and raises body temperature. According to the expert, this increase in degrees is going to make the brain thermostat reach its maximum and that one or two hours later, when the process of temperature loss or hypothermia begins, the moment of maximum proclivity to sleep arrives.
2. Sleep half an hour less. Restricting sleep time by 10% is a fundamental trick in times of confinement, If we need seven and a half hours to be perfect, the ideal would be to eliminate that half hour and sleep only seven. So we would go a little short of sleep and without going into neurological specifications, we managed to reinforce the homeostatic mechanism of sleep. Staying in bed and sleeping at times is not an option.
3. Write your concerns on a piece of paper. Writing down everything that makes us uneasy during the sleeplessness to avoid nightmares and achieve more pleasant dreams. Write down what worries you most right now and include the positive goals you would like to accomplish, as well as what you can actively do to achieve them. This makes all those messy thoughts come out of your head in some way by bringing them to paper. Write as many pages as you need, get it all out.
4. Disconnect before sleeping. Importance of promoting rituals before going to bed that are far from the theme of the health crisis. It is what called slowdown lane, that time that we must dedicate to something that has nothing to do with work or news: reading a book or watching a movie. Then, while you are trying to sleep, do not think about what worries you, but about things you like, loved ones or plans. You will be amazed at how much this will change your dreams and therefore stress.
5. Structure your schedules. Although those who are not teleworking may have a more difficult time establishing a routine with so many ‘free’ hours ahead, it is important to do different activities and limit them in time.
6. Avoid napping. It’s tempting to take advantage of long afternoons of confinement by taking a nap, but experts recommend avoiding the temptation to sleep better at night. If we nap it must be ‘micro’, that is, less than fifteen minutes.
7. Follow your natural tendencies. Taking advantage of the fact that teleworking schedules can be a little more flexible or that you do not waste time in traffic jams or public transport to get to the office, it is advisable not to obsess about imposing certain schedules. It is better to follow the trends of each one so as not to force the sleep mechanism; if you are a songbird, start the day a little earlier than the rest and if you are an owl, go to bed and get up later.
8. Lower the lights. While in the morning it is convenient to expose ourselves to sunlight so that the brain understands that it is day, at night the idea is just the opposite. It is good to reduce the luminosity in the last hours and back on dim lights. If we are watching television, the light it emits would suffice. We must not forget that psychological treatments or sleep treatments are still available online during quarantine. In case it is needed it is convenient to go to a specialist.