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Hello, my name is Ricky Thompson. I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with Thriveworks in Jacksonville, Florida. The question that was asked is, “How can I improve my sleep habits during the COVID-19 pandemic?”

This is a great question because sleep is critical to our physical health. Sleep also helps us to maintain our good mental health. The coronavirus has brought us all into unfamiliar territory as we stay at home and shelter in place, many people are afraid for themselves as well as for their loved ones. So what are some of the challenges to sleep that we’re facing during these current events?

Well, first of all, a disruption of our daily life. We all had daily routines, social distancing, school closures. Working from home has brought big changes to our normal routines. It can be difficult to adjust to a new daily schedule or even a lack of a daily schedule.

Second, anxiety and worry. We worry about getting sick or a loved one getting sick. We may worry about our jobs or the economy. The list can go on at home. Just know that it is normal to experience anxiety during this time.

You may also be experiencing symptoms of depression while we shelter in place. Depression can be even worse for people who have a loved one who was sick or might have died from COVID-19. Grief and depression can be exacerbated. Why? Isolating at home. Depression is known to cause significant sleep problems.

You may also be experiencing greater family and work stress. Many families are under serious stress as a result of the Coronavirus. Things like cancelling trips, not being able to visit with friends and having an abundance of time cooped up at home can place a strain on anyone. Keeping up with work from home obligations or managing a house full of children who are accustomed to being at school can generate stress and stress can certainly disrupt our sleep.

So what can we do to improve our sleep habits? Well, first of all, have a schedule and a routine. Our bodies function better when we maintain a routine and rhythm during this difficult time. It is easy to sleep in or stay up late. That gets our sleep and wake up time out of rhythm. Plan on wind down time before you go to bed. It’s important to relax and to prepare for bed.

So, we need a routine time for when you go to bed and from when you get up. Try to go to bed around the same time every night and try to get up around the same time every morning. Next, your bed is for sleeping. We want your mind and body to associate your bed with sleep. Working from home does not mean working from bed. Avoid the laptop and especially avoid this thing.

Also avoid eating in bed. Remember, our goal is to associate your bed with sleep. Speaking of not eating in bed, watch what you eat and drink in particular. Be cautious of alcohol and caffeine, especially later in the day as both can disrupt the quality of your sleep. Try to utilize relaxation techniques. Simple things like deep breathing, meditation, or calming music can be a part of your nightly routine.

If you’ve tried and after say 20 minutes, you still haven’t gone to sleep, get up and leave the bedroom. I would suggest going somewhere and doing some light reading or an activity that you find relaxing. Once you begin to feel drowsy, go back to the bedroom.

Hopefully you will find that these tips not only have improved your sleep habits, but will also improve the quality of your sleep. I sincerely hope that you’ve enjoyed this video and found it to be helpful. Again, my name is Ricky Thompson and I would like to thank you for taking the time to watch this video.