Editor’s Note: Our friend, Brooke Nalle is a leading Sleep Consultant in the New York City area, helping parents and individuals get much-needed, healthy rest. She’s graciously allowed us to share this article, originally posted on her site, www.sleepyonhudson.com.
Like most of you, we have been sheltering in place for almost three months. When this COVID quarantine first began, we functioned in triage mode. We slept when we needed to, ate what we had in the fridge or could rustle up from a friend’s restaurant supply order, and made it to the next day grateful for our health.
As this way of life became the new normal, I had to take a hard look at how we were living here trapped in our house, on our street. We couldn’t just watch Netflix super late and wake up just before our conference calls and virtual school sessions. It was time to get back on track.
As a sleep consultant, I decided it best to get back on track with our family sleep. Because a good night’s sleep hinges on diet and exercise, routine, and consistency, we ended up fixing a whole lot more. Here are my takeaways with what ended up truly working.
- It is silly to expect to get back on your old schedule. My husband no longer has to wake at 6am to commute, our children no longer have to wake at 7 to eat quickly and head out the door to school. Pick a time an hour or so later, give yourself this gift. We picked 7am wake for us and 8am wake for the children.
- Work outside time into your day even in bad weather. As my very outdoorsy brother likes to remind me, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” Aim for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes before sundown. I highly recommend an after lunch and after dinner walk. The fresh air and vitamin D during the day cue your body for better sleep at night.
- Find a way to get exercise. Again you don’t need to return to an all-out Cross Fit regime, but take advantage of the virtual classes that abound and try something new. Aim to do your workout at the same time each day. Ideally 3-4 hours before night sleep.
- Put yourself back on an eating schedule. Your body needs to know what to expect. If you are eating dinner sometimes at 6pm and other times at 10pm, you can send very confusing messages about night sleep. If you can find your sweet spot. Most people do best with about 3-4 yours between the last meal and night sleep.
- Finally, give yourself a bedtime routine. Allow ideally an hour or so between your last screen and turning out the light. Again be fair and cut yourself a break, this might be the time to have a later bedtime because you are getting an extra hour or so in the morning. Charge your phone in the kitchen, keep your TV off in the bedroom, and unwind with a book — remember those?
The world is slowly opening up again. Who knows, maybe some of these good habits will stick around when you return to regular life.
-The NwP Team