Something happens when you sleep.
I don’t mean your recurring dream of driving a chalk-white BMW Roadster down the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast with Ace of Base’s “Beautiful Life” blasting on the radio (although that sounds like a badass dream!)
When you sleep, your body enters a restorative, anabolic state, where essential hormones like estrogen, testosterone and insulin are released into your bloodstream (yummy!)
These, along with GH (Growth Hormone), help repair and replenish an exorbitant amount of molecules that your body consumed in its catabolic state (ie. all that energy you wasted doing god knows what throughout the day.)
As a result of this optimal anabolism, you feel rested, relaxed and ready to slay yet another day.
A BETTER QUALITY OF SLEEP
But in light of COVID-19, you might be feeling stress and anxiety of Brobdingnagian proportions.
The news of sky-rocketing infection rates and an ominous death toll makes you want to throw in the towel on Life.
What’s more, you toss and turn under the covers, wondering when you might finally catch some much-needed shut-eye to function properly in the days to come.
But despite the world’s grim state of affairs, as some of you struggle with bouts of insomnia, staring wide-eyed at the ceiling while lying restlessly in bed, others are actually catching some serious ZZZs.
So, what makes these sleepyheads doze off into dreamland as you count sheep after sheep to no avail?
Well, from caffeine overdrives to a lack of orgasms (especially these days when physical contact is a big no-no), there are plenty of reasons why Person A experiences a better quality of sleep than Person B.
My hunch is that Person A prioritizes sleep to some extent, even if it’s not at the tippy-top of their “Things To Do During COVID” list.
Moreover, Person A dances to their circadian rhythm with pizzazz, whereas Person B blames their two left feet for fucking up on the dance floor.
In the grand scheme of things, however, Person B must realize that the dance steps of restful sleep (ie. maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm) are quite easy to master.
They need only listen to the beat of their internal sleep/wake cycle and sway their hips to the percussion.
Doing so can help them sink cozily into bed, drift into a peaceful slumber and resume that baller dream involving a BMW Roadster, Ace of Base and the picturesque Amalfi Coast.
SLEEP IN THE TIME OF COVID: 3 PIECES OF ADVICE FROM A SERIAL NAPPER
1. BUILD IMMUNITY
Trying not to catch COVID?
How ‘bout you sleep more?
A 2015 study at the University of California found that people who slept less than five hours were three times likelier to catch a cold after exposure to a virus than those who slept for seven hours or more.
That’s because cells that build up your immune system secrete proteins during sleep. This, in turn, boosts your autoimmune response and fights back when you’re under the attack of a pernicious virus.
In other words, sleeping can prepare you for the flu’s preemptive strike. It constructs the parapets upon which your army of T-cells can fling rocks and arrows and keep it from overthrowing your kingdom.
You’re probably thinking, duh! I know I need to sleep more. But how, when there’s a gotdamn pandemic setting fire to humanity?
Well, dear reader, if only I could cast an enchantment that’ll make you prick your finger on a spindle, perhaps I could spare you from the below two pieces of advice to optimize your sleep experience.
But seeing as I’m not an enchantress, I guess you’ll just have to keep reading.
2. DIURNAL DO’s
We’ve glossed over your circadian rhythm — mankind’s internal sleep/wake cycle spanning 24 hours — and how breaking from this cycle can compromise your chances of catching some serious ZZZs.
Before you raise your hand and asked to be excused from this lesson on account of your “night owl” status, it’ll behoove you to understand that for thousands of years humans have evolved into a diurnal species, meaning “of, relating to, or occurring in the daytime.”
The only difference between a self-proclaimed nightcrawler and a morning person is that the latter doesn’t resist the morning.
They embrace it.
So, allow me to impart the following piece of advice:
You needn’t heed the rhythm of the night and dance until the morning light. Doing so will fuck with your circadian rhythm and mess with your sleep in the time of COVID.
Instead, stick to diurnal activities (ie. be proactive during the day) and boogie down to your morning beats. (Sadly, graveyard shift workers and moonlighters get the short end of the “sleep stick.”)
Seriously, guys, do fight the moonlight, contrary to LeAnn Rhimes’ poor advice.
Look, we’re all morning people, or at least we were meant to be. It’s just that some people cope better with morning grogginess than others and can rise from their beds as invigorated as the Energizer Bunny.
Those who can’t (or better yet, those who won’t) should evaluate their quality of sleep (or lack thereof) before choosing to meander endlessly in nightlife.
And please wake up before 9 AM. It’s time that you expose yourself to daylight.
Keep in mind that our bodies need daylight to properly regulate our sleep/wake cycles and maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
Therefore, if you live in a ground-floor apartment or single-level home with windows that face a sidewalk, community pool, or some other less-than-ideal direction in which you feel terribly exposed, don’t just keep the shades drawn 24/7!
There’s a reason sheer curtains are stocked on the shelves of JC Penney and Macy’s (these ones, in particular, are currently hanging in the living room of my ground-floor condo!)
Do yourself a favor: buy these babies and add a solid layer of privacy so that you don’t have to live in a dark cave of despair.
3. NOCTURNAL DONT’s
There are myriad bedtime rituals that you can follow for a better quality of sleep.
The tips below are a great starting point to help you snooze into a blissful, uninterrupted slumber.
For starters, let’s address some of the things that keep you up at night (like that third cup of coffee.)
The average cup of joe is packed with 95 milligrams of caffeine and it can take up to 12 hours to expunge every last gram from your system.
If you can’t do without caffeine altogether, try avoiding it after 2 PM.
That goes for certain sodas you like to drink over Happy Hour with your mouth ringed in “wango tango” sauce from the hot wings you devour on Tequila Tuesdays at your local wingery.
Oh, and when you’ve finished wreaking drunken havoc at your local wingery, please don’t take the party home, dear reader.
Those late-night Moscow Mules and Sex on the Beaches might induce feelings of relaxation and aid the onset of sleep.
But later, as your liver enzymes metabolize the alcohol from those delicious cocktails, you’ll likely experience disruptions in your sleep caused by frequent urination and a pesky headache.
Now, you’ve probably developed a bedtime ritual of browsing Youtube for the latest viral videos or retweeting Bill Gates’ I-told-you-so’s about the current global pandemic — something he warned us about 5 years ago (yes, yes, Bill. We know. We know.)
The reason you should refrain from staring at screens before drifting into sleep is that the blue light emitted from your mobile devices and your TV inhibits the part of your brain that produces melatonin — a hormone that likes to come out and play only when it senses the dark.
(Also, check out this study that shows how those who are emotionally invested in their online presence have a lesser quality of sleep than those who aren’t.)
Thus, rather than spending a shit ton of time on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, why not spend a bit more time reading, journaling, or listening to a guided meditation?
At QWERTYdelight, we love some of the Louise Hay meditations that’s available on Youtube for free!
But if this ain’t your cup of tea, perhaps you’d consider a sleep story instead? (Click the following link and check out our recommendations!)
Also, to enjoy the ultimate snooze, you’ll need to create an optimal space for sleep.
Plants like English Ivy and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue can purify the air in your bedroom, which can reduce skin, lung and eye irritation and enhance your sleep experience.
Finally, spraying Frankincense on your pillow, or soothing scents like lavender and eucalyptus, can instill a sense of calm and help you relax into a peaceful slumber.
Heeding the advice of yours truly — a bonafide serial napper — will not only improve your quality of sleep in the time of COVID.
It’ll help you create delightful experiences for yourself and those around you.
And that, my friend, is what QWERTYdelight’s all about 🙂