By Dr. Anuj Chandra, Advanced Center for Sleep Disorders
(November 12, 2020) — Election stress, COVID stress, the time change… Is your sleep suffering? There are so many things causing stress — and sleeplessness — for so many people right now!
CNN just published a story on their web site about how election stress is affecting people’s sleep. One example: two companies that make sleep tracking products (one makes an app and one a wearable device) report that tens of thousands of people lost an average of 25-30 minutes of sleep on election night. And election stress comes near the end of a year that is already super stressful because of COVID, not to mention the time change on Nov. 1.
Of course, losing a few minutes sleep or having a little bit of worry doesn’t necessarily cause huge problems. But when the stress doesn’t let up, the effects add up. Unrelenting stress can disturb your sleep and reduce the effectiveness of your immune system.
Here are some steps you can take to reduce your stress and sleep better:
- Put yourself on a news diet. Limit the time you spend reading news and stop reading it completely two hours before you go to bed, so you can relax.
- Get some exercise. Even a moderate amount of exercise will help your body get rid of stress-related chemicals.
- Don’t use alcohol to relax. It may feel good in the short run, but it will disturb your sleep and keep you from resting well.
- Keep your bedroom cool. Set your thermostat to 65 degrees to keep the temperature between 60 and 67 degrees.
- No electronics in bed. Stop using anything with a screen an hour or two before bed. The blue light from those screens tells your brain to stay awake.
Anuj Chandra, M.D., D.ABSM, founded the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine in 2005, an independent sleep medicine clinic equipped with the latest sleep testing equipment and with locations in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since 2005, Dr. Chandra has served on the international teaching faculty of the National Sleep Medicine Course, a physician education initiative to bring cutting edge to sleep medicine training to India. For more on Dr. Chandra and the Advanced Center for Sleep Medicine, visit www.sleepforhealth.org.