Sleep during COVID, Part 2: Sleeping too much and/or a reversed sleep pattern
As a NYC therapist who specializes in sleep and anxiety, a sleep issue I’m hearing about during the COVID-19 pandemic is people sleeping too much. With so much loss during this time – loved ones, finances, future plans – it’s adaptive to feel grief, anger, boredom or ennui. Sometimes you might feel so bad that you don’t want to get out of bed, or you find yourself up all night and sleeping all day.
I understand that it feels hard to make anything happen when you feel down. Thus, your willingness to try the recommendations below is key. As a sleep specialist, I want you to sleep well at night and feel good during the day. Here are some ways to get there.
Synch up your circadian clock to the solar clock
Too much time in bed disrupts your circadian rhythms, whether you’re sleeping or not. Our circadian system is our body’s “master clock” and it regulates a host of body functions, including sleep. The most potent way to re-regulate your circadian system is to give it the routine it needs: Get up at the same time every morning, get daylight and move around.
Ease into your new sleep schedule by getting up half-hour earlier every morning until you reach your desired wake-up time. To get there, actively give yourself good reasons to get out of bed. Plan things that you can look forward to. Put your energy into restoring life pleasures, even small and simple ones. Try it for 2 weeks to fully adjust.
Energize your life with feelings
Remember that sadness, anger or boredom are just one of many feelings that you can have throughout the day. You can also feel joy in simple pleasures, gratitude for what you do have and what is working, love for the people and creatures in your life, hope that we as creative humans will get through this. Ask yourself, “Is staying in this negative state helping me or hurting me?” When you find yourself at a crossroad of feeling, be willing to choose the path that helps you.
When you let the waves of strong emotions move through you, you will feel more energy. The energy of the feeling itself, and the energy you spend suppressing the feeling, will be available to you to energize your life.
It’s your mind, you own it
When we’re in a state of Insomnia, anxiety or depression, it can feel as if an outside force is acting upon us. The truth is, it’s our minds producing the thoughts and feelings that make us feel bad. For sleep, one of the best things you can do is take your power back – and the great power you have is being able to redirect your thoughts.
Ask yourself: “Am I in the past, present or future right now?” Are you ruminating about a past event or imagining scary future “what ifs”? Notice that where you can have the most impact on your life is in the present moment. Own your own mind by making your here and now better.
Acknowledge what’s happening and how you feel with a healthy dose of self-compassion. Self-compassion is simply the act of treating yourself with the same kindness that you would a loved one. You’ll also benefit from the well-researched physical health benefits of self-compassion.