The events of 2020 have upended schedules, changed the way we work, kept us at home and turned us into toilet paper hoarders – all of these new stressors are affecting our sleep. Luckily, we’ve learned a lot this past year and have a few ideas on how you can sleep off the stress of 2020 and head into 2021 well-rested.
The Best at Sleeping the Worst
In 2019, the Better Sleep Council (BSC) launched The State of America’s Sleep, an annual survey measuring sleep quality in the U.S. By January 2020, research showed that sleep quality had declined compared to last year.
Fewer Americans were getting the minimum recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night (54% in January 2020 vs. 60% in 2019). America’s stress levels increased, more Americans felt financially strapped, and fewer used coping mechanisms to deal with stress.
And then, in March, things got worse. Much worse. COVID-19 reached the U.S.
COVID-19 vs. Sleep
During the early days of the pandemic, BSC fielded a follow-up survey to see how exactly coronavirus had changed the way Americans sleep. Spoiler alert: It’s not good news.
- As of March 2020, the number of Americans getting the minimum recommended hours of sleep declined even more (54% in January 2020 vs. 49% in March 2020).
- Fewer Americans woke up feeling rested and refreshed often or frequently (30% in January 2020 vs. 24% in March 2020).
- More Americans described their sleep as poor or fair (43% in January 2020 vs. 52% in March 2020).
- All of the sleep issues that COVID-19 amplified have also led to a significant increase in negative mentions about sleep on social media (up 62% from last March).
So, what does all this mean for you? What can you do to get through the rest of 2020, and 2021, with as little stress and as much restful sleep as possible? Here are three key themes to keep in mind:
Routine, Routine, Routine
While the world may seem a bit unhinged right now, you can create a sense of normalcy in your day-to-day by creating new routines – especially for sleep.
Certified Sleep Educator Terry Cralle suggests that the pandemic has allowed us to reevaluate our sleep schedules. “Before the lockdown, many children, as well as adults, were overscheduled. We traded sleep hours for long commutes, work, social events and more. For some of us, there are now fewer excuses not to get the sleep our minds and bodies require.”
Set up a sleep schedule for yourself and be consistent with it. At least an hour or two before you turn in, turn off electronics such as your phone, computer and TV. Before bed, practice yoga, drink some warm tea, or do anything that relaxes you and gets you in the mood for sleep – your pre-bed ritual is the foreplay to a restful night.
Self-Care Your Way to Better Sleep
Ever heard of the phrase “Treat Yourself”? 2020 is the time to start doing that.
You may have saved some money this holiday season on travel, food and buying gifts due to COVID restrictions. Why not spend your holiday fund on improving your sleep environment? Invest in a new mattress, buy blackout curtains or a sleep mask, and celebrate the holidays with sleep.
Self-care isn’t just buying yourself gifts – it’s about establishing a healthy mental and emotional lifestyle too.
Add a Method to Fight the Stress Madness
Trying to manage your different stressors can seem almost impossible during a year like this. Not only are we fighting through a pandemic, but we just finished a hotly contested presidential election season. Election Stress Disorder (or ESD) is real and affects people on both sides of the political aisle.
Thankfully, there are just as many de-stressing options out there as there are things to stress over.
For instance, the philosophy of feng shui aids in creating a balance within your home and promotes a positive, stressless environment – perfect to cancel out the negative energy from back-to-back, work-from-home Zoom meetings.
Or, if financial stress is keeping you up, you can schedule time in the day to focus on your finances – to avoid having the issues keep you awake at bedtime. There are also nonprofit groups that offer free financial help through these stressful times.
Find the cause of your stress and then find a specific de-stressing method for whatever is keeping you up.
This year has piled on heaps of stress in our lives, but you can combat it and get back on the right track to Snoozeville. Set new routines, practice self-care and find specific de-stressing methods so you can get some better sleep through the end of 2020 and beyond.The stress of 2020 may be affecting your sleep more than you think. Discover how to sleep better with help from @BetterSleepOrg.
This blog provides general information about sleep and sleep products. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified heath care professional. This blog should not be construed as medical advice or used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care professional. This blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health or the health of others. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or elsewhere on bettersleep.org. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.