COVID insomnia: How to beat it
The pandemic has caused more issues than just physical ones. The emotional toll is staggering. Depression, anxiety, and fear are rampant. But something that no one talks about is pandemic related insomnia. There are people who continue to (or have just begun to) toss and turn from having their schedules disrupted and just from the general uncertainty in the air.
Sleep is probably one of the top things I value. It is very hard for me to function without a good night’s rest, however, I do catch an occasional case of insomnia, especially now. After one too many restless nights I have found a few remedies that make eventually falling asleep easier.
First and foremost, it has been well documented that the blue light from your screens—your phone computer and TV—can disrupt the deep, restful REM sleep that we all need. Make sure you don’t look at your phone or computer screen within at LEAST three hours before going to bed.
The first thing that I usually try when I can’t fall asleep is turning on my white noise machine. If you don’t have a noise machine there are plenty of YouTube videos that have a wide selection of relaxing sounds. I typically have a lot of thoughts going through my mind when I am unable to sleep, and the white noise cancels out those thoughts and replaces them with a single noise to focus in on.
The next thing I will try if the white noise is not enough for me is controlled breathing. I was initially quite skeptical about this as it came off as a textbook solution to insomnia, however, I have found it to work for me more than a few times. Closing your eyes and slowly counting your breaths will eventually calm down your body and make it easier to fall asleep. If counting is not your thing you can also think of an image in your head and try and focus on it without getting distracted. I find that when I cannot sleep it’s usually because I have a lot going on in my head which prevents me from relaxing and ultimately getting a good night's rest.
If not being able to sleep is becoming a trend, start keeping a sleeping diary. Often there is something recurring preventing you from sleep and if you can pick up on it and figure out what’s causing it, you may be able to create coping strategies for when it occurs.
And lastly but probably most important, think positive thoughts as you drift off to sleep. Do self talk. If your insomnia is pandemic related remember “this too shall pass.” Repeat -t—or any other affirmation—like a mantra slowly and meaningfully as you drift off.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.