It is not unusual to have your sleep schedule be a bit of a mess during a stay-at-home order. When you’re stuck at home for long periods of time, the days tend to merge, and bedtime doesn’t seem to be as important as it once was.

However, getting a good night’s sleep is still essential for mental health, physical health, and your immune system. It’s important to have a regular sleep schedule even if your schedule is currently not regular in any way.

We have some tips on how to get back on track so you can get a good night’s rest.

1. Use Light to Your Advantage
Your body needs cycles of light and dark in order to sleep properly. When it is dark, your body produced more melatonin, one of the hormones that can help you sleep. Light blocks the production of melatonin.

You can use this to your advantage by opening the curtains in the morning or keeping them open overnight to let the natural light beam into your room. Make sure to dim your lights at night and stay away from bright screens before bed that can interfere with your sleep (like your phone and computer).

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2. Exercise Daily
Exercising throughout the day can be incredibly beneficial for your sleep, including getting more sleep, waking up less often, and having an overall deeper sleep. While this does not always apply to everyone, there is no harm in burning some energy while we are all cooped up inside our homes.

3. Avoid Naps
It might be very tempting to take an afternoon nap while you are working from home or while you’re passing the time of this isolation period. However, taking a nap, no matter how tired you feel, is most likely going to disrupt your sleep schedule. Napping can make it very difficult to fall asleep at night. If you absolutely must nap, make sure it is before 3 p.m. to help reduce the impact on your night.

4. Stop Snacking at Night
What and when you eat affects how you sleep. Your last meal should be at least two to three hours before bed so that your body has enough time to digest your food. Many people’s snacks peak after dinner while they are relaxing and watching television. If you’re trying to have a regular sleep schedule it is best to skip these snacks altogether or opt for a very light snack.

It’s also important to avoid caffeinated drinks after mid-afternoon because the caffeine takes many hours to work its way out of your system.

5. Make Gradual Adjustments
It is unlikely you’ll be able to get your sleep schedule back on track after one night. The best way is to slowly make small changes. If you’ve been going to bed at 1 a.m. every night, you have more chance to be successful by going to bed at 12:30 a.m. for a few nights and then midnight for a few nights, etc, instead of suddenly just going to bed at 10 p.m.

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