How to Maintain Your Sleep Schedule During a Health Crisis

You normally wake up around the same time each day. You read the news while eating breakfast, drop the kids off at school, and listen to your favorite podcast on your commute to work. After work, you exercise at the gym, come home and make a nutritious dinner, and then spend quality time with your family before bedtime.

The COVID-19 outbreak brings us a new normal. Maybe your children sleep late in the morning and stay up late at night. You’re not sleeping well at night, and you sneak in naps between your virtual work meetings. Your usual routine has disappeared, and the family is feeling stressed and anxious.

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule during a crisis can be difficult, but it helps you get the amount of sleep you need — and good quality sleep — each night. This helps you stay healthy and happy, and makes it easier to manage the uncertainty that results from a health crisis.

Sleep is important even during a pandemic, and there are several things that you can do to maintain a sleep schedule during a health crisis.

Set a bedtime and set an alarm

Choose regular times to go to bed each night and wake up in the morning – stick to these times even if you don’t have to go in to the office or get the kids to school. Make sure that you get the recommended amount of sleep that you need each night. Adults need a minimum of seven hours of sleep, and school age children need at least nine hours of sleep.

Stick to a routine during the day

The COVID-19 pandemic has removed structure for many households as people are spending more time at home. If your day now lacks a schedule, create one.

A routine is important during times of social isolation and physical distancing. It’s comforting to have something that you can rely on during a time of uncertainty. Normalcy and can improve your mood and reduce stress, which can improve the quality of sleep you get at night. 

Your new routine might include eating meals together, family exercise time, reading time, or game nights. 

Wind down before bedtime

Do something calm and soothing before it’s time for bed. Read, paint, draw, color, do a puzzle, listen to relaxing music, take a bath, or meditate, and make it a habit. This helps your body recognize that it’s time for sleep.

Limit naps

Some workers have been laid off, and some are working fewer hours, because of the coronavirus outbreak. Others are working at home for the first time. This added stress can cause fatigue. Resist the urge to nap during the day. If you must take a nap, avoid napping late in the day, and limit your nap to 15 minutes.

Get outside

With social distancing measures in place, many people are staying at home for days on end. This doesn’t mean that you have to stay indoors, however. Spend time outdoors and enjoy natural sunlight while practicing social distancing.

Exercise every day

Staying physically active can help you maintain your sleep schedule during a health crisis. Exercise daily to burn off extra energy, improve your mood, and stay healthy.

This is a great opportunity to try out new kinds of exercise. Try YouTube exercise videos, active games, or walking and biking in new places.

Avoid unhealthy substances

The stress of a pandemic causes some people turn to unhealthy substances. Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.

  • Limit the amount of caffeine that you drink. Avoid caffeine late in the day.
  • Tobacco is dangerous in any form, and it can disrupt your sleep.
  • Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation. Avoid alcohol use if it affects your sleep.

Turn off screen before bedtime.

Maybe you’re on social media more now than ever before, or you check the latest figures on COVID-19 every hour. News reports and social media can be especially stressful, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Put phones away and turn off screens an hour before going to bed.

Prioritize sleep

Sleep may be one of the last things that you’re thinking about right now, but getting good quality sleep — and getting enough sleep — every night is essential for your health. Sleep strengthens your immune system, improves your mental health, improves focus and cognitive function, and promotes good overall health.

Facts and information about the coronavirus pandemic are constantly changing. Visit the CDC site for the most up-to-date information during the COVID-19 outbreak.