During this uncertain time, you may be wondering about things you can do to help keep you healthy. Aside from practicing proper hygiene, one of the best things you can do is ensure you get a good night’s sleep!
According to the NYC Sleep Doctor, Dr. Janet Kennedy, PHD, “Staying well rested bolsters the immune system, making it less vulnerable to viruses and infections and speeding recovery when you do get sick.”
Dr. Kennedy also recommends Soma’s Cool Nights® Pajamas to help with better sleep. “Temperature regulation is particularly important for sleep quality because overheating disrupts sleep. Soma’s Cool Nights pajamas perform as advertised, keeping you from overheating as body temperature fluctuates during the night. They look and feel great, too.”
Below, Dr. Kennedy answers the questions that are keeping you up at night.
Q: How do you make yourself sleep when your brain isn’t tired, but your body is?
A: You give your brain a place to go. The easiest way to do that in my opinion, is to read fiction. It takes your mind away from all the stuff that’s getting you activated and agitated. All the to-do lists, all the things we’re worried about. Worrying about sleep even. Giving your mind a place to go allows your body to take over with its natural fatigue and pull you to sleep. I recommend reading until you can’t stay awake. And if reading is not your thing, you can try doing crossword puzzles on paper (not on your phone), Sudoku, coloring in a coloring book, needlework, listening to a podcast, audiobooks, you name it. Anything that will capture your attention and pull you away from that cycle of anxiety and agitation that keeps you awake.
Q: How do you survive lack of sleep with an infant?
A: It’s hard, but it’s also a temporary situation. Your baby WILL learn how to sleep, but right now it’s really tricky. My best advice is if you have a partner at home, try to organize a sleep schedule so that you can sleep in shifts. If you can get a 4-5 hour stretch where your partner does the feeding at night, that can make a world of difference. You can also try to get some napping in during the day. Some people find it hard to nap, but it’s OK in this type of situation to try to make up for some lost sleep during the day when you have the opportunity. If you can’t sleep during the day, at least try to get some rest, perhaps while the baby is sleeping, where you’re just lying there and letting your brain and body cool off. You don’t have to be productive every second of the day!
Q: Apparently, I snore. Does that mean I’m not sleeping well?
A: Snoring can interfere with your sleep quality, and if you’re doing it chronically you should try to figure out a remedy. It could be allergies or other congestion and using a saline nasal spray before bed can really help. Also, taking your allergy medicine (over the counter or prescription if you have one), even an over the counter allergy nasal spray could be really helpful. Strips that you can put over your nose that will hold the airways open a little bit can help, too. In cases of more extreme snoring, you might try ordering a mouth guard online that you can mold to your mouth at home. What that does is that it holds the airway open by pushing the jaw a little bit forward while you’re sleeping.
While these are all quick fixes, I do recommend you get to a doctor when you are able to so they can help you further address the problem.
Q: Is it better to get all your sleep at night or get some sleep at night + a daytime nap?
A: The short answer is that it’s better to get your sleep at night. It’s not the same to get 6 hours at night and an hour or hour and a half during the day as it is to get 7 ½ hours at night, for example. However, you can take a power nap during the day as a little refresher if you need it, as long as it doesn’t start interfering with your nighttime sleep. A power nap is 20 – 40 minutes. You should absolutely set an alarm, so you don’t oversleep and try to be up by 4pm. If you notice that it’s harder to fall asleep at night, cut out the daytime nap. You’re just better off getting more sleep at night.
Q: Is there an optimal number of hours of sleep for women age 50+ and premenopausal?
A: Adults typically need 7 – 8 ½ hours of sleep and that doesn’t really change regardless of your age or life stage. What does change is your ability to get that amount of sleep in a seamless way.
Perimenopause can really wreak havoc on sleep: Hormone fluctuations cause night waking, hot flashes and insomnia. The task is really figuring out how to deal with that and my advice is, don’t struggle against it. If you’re up at night and your body is just not feeling like it’s going to sleep, get up. Don’t lie there tossing and turning – you have to break that cycle. It’s OK to do something else like reading or watching TV to pass the time until you feel ready to sleep again. The key is to make it pleasant so that it doesn’t feel like torture you have to endure every night. Try not to oversleep either, meaning don’t go to sleep early or sleep later, because that will fragment your sleep more. I’d also recommend talking to your doctor to see if there’s something that can be done about your hormones to make things a little easier for you.
Q: What is your advice for getting sleep amid all that is going on with the world right now?
A: First, we have to understand that this situation is not normal. It’s very stressful. It’s scary. And it’s really just very agitating to be cooped up all day, not knowing how long this will be going on. What’s important is to keep a schedule in place so that you’re not oversleeping. You need to be getting up at roughly the same time every day so that you’ll be able to sleep when you want to at night. If you sleep in, it pushes your whole clock forward and then you can end up with insomnia the next night. Making sure that you’re not working in bed or spending a lot of time in bed other than when you’re sleeping is really important as is setting a turn off time for news and social media. Finally, when you get into bed, do something to distract yourself like reading an actual book or e–reader. This gives you a way to take your mind out of all the stuff going on in the world and the body can take over with its function, which is to get you to sleep.