There aren’t a lot of positive things to say about COVID-19. For most of us, it has negatively impacted our lives in one way or another, whether restricting our ability to gather and socialize, impeding our opportunity to work and provide for loved ones, or keeping us from fulfilling our dreams and goals. And the list goes on!
But over the last several months, I’ve done a bit of reframing and am doing my best to look at COVID in a different way. As much as I miss my old routines and hyperdrive lifestyle, if it weren’t for the many pandemic-related limitations, I wouldn’t have been forced to slow down (au revoir, excessive work-related travel and after-hours events) and reassess some of my lifestyle habits that don’t really serve me (looking at you, late nights at the office).
At the top of my list of unexpected pandemic lessons is an increase in quality rest. For years—and if I’m being honest, probably decades—I’ve struggled with sleep issues, sometimes even wearing my four-hours of shut-eye as a badge of honor. On the productivity scale, I might have been excelling, but according to wellness experts, not sleeping the minimum of seven hours a night was putting me at risk for a variety of health issues.
For example, people who sleep less have a higher risk of heart attacks, cancer, and strokes than those who log the bare minimum ZZZs each night. Just thinking about the harmful side effects of sleep deficiency is enough to keep me up at night! When I get eight hours, I am my best self. I feel calm, less anxious, and I don’t need caffeine or sugar to prop me up. A full week of eight hours? Watch out, world!
While this break has allowed me to improve my sleep, it’s still an ongoing challenge. After all, VegNews is a 24/7 operation! While I wish I could say that luxuriating in a hot bath with a cup of herbal tea and a streaming meditation is all it takes, that’s not the case. But I’ve found a way to work with what I’ve got, and so far, it’s working pretty well. Balancing the dream with the reality and being okay with “doing my best” sets me up for success.
6 Tips for Great Sleep in Our Imperfect Lives
- My Dream: Nightly meditation ritual for relaxation
My Reality: 30 minutes of quality TV time
While I used to shun television, these days I’ve acquiesced to this guilty pleasure. I relish my time each night just to chill out and relax my mind, which is almost as good as meditation. Just 30 minutes of a riveting show really does it for me (I’m currently watching Billions on Showtime).
- My Dream: A long hot soak in a bath with calming essential oils
My Reality: A quick hot shower
Since I don’t have a bathtub, I’ve learned to settle for a hot shower. The warmth still soothes and relaxes, even if it’s not as luxurious experience. #2021Goals: get a bathtub!
- My Dream: Sipping a soothing cup of chamomile to lull me to sleep
My Reality: I wish a mug of tea was all it took to make me drowsy, but the truth is I’ve been taking CBDFX Melatonin CBD Gummies, and they do wonders to relax my overactive central nervous system. Hey, whatever works!
- My Dream: Studio yoga classes
My Reality: Movement, and yoga in particular, is my number one antidote to stress, but with COVID, IRL classes are off the table. My Rx? Walk, walk, walk. I walk to and from the office, to the post office, bank, and grocery store. Interspersed with Zoom yoga classes, does it.
- My Dream: Revving up in the morning with a green drink
My Reality: During COVID, I’ve developed a caffeine habit I never used to have. I love the energy it gives me, but the side effects include trouble sleeping. My happy medium is to limit my caffeine to the early am, and to enjoy a little lift in the form of ceremonial cacao, which has a cleaner buzz.
- My Dream: Enjoying a delicious dessert after dinner
My Reality: A big shift I’ve made this year has been to eat lighter in the evenings, which helps me to sleep more soundly. While I never go to bed hungry, a full stomach definitely makes sleeping a challenge. These days, I save dessert for a post-lunch treat, and instead enjoy a nourishing bowl of soup or Indian kitcheree for dinner.
Do whatever it takes to preserve good sleep. Your routines and environment may not be perfect, but do the best you can to protect this vital component of a healthy lifestyle.