Try These Creative Tips for Getting Quality Sleep During Challenging Times

Falling into a restful sleep when you’re stressed can be difficult, but these solutions will help.

Gorodenkoff/ Shutterstock
Gorodenkoff/ Shutterstock

With anxiety running high and familiar routines overturned in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are finding that getting quality sleep is becoming increasingly challenging. But even in stressful periods like this, good sleep is exactly what our bodies and minds need to reduce anxiety and boost immunity.

Audible and Thrive Global have come together to introduce a collection of free audio experiences — from guided meditations and bedtime stories to sound baths and Microsteps for better sleep — designed to help you get some rest during this difficult time. By committing to our health and the health of our communities, we can emerge from this challenging historical moment together and stronger than before — and that starts with sleep. We asked our Thrive community to share the sleep tips that have been working for them during this time. Which will you try tonight?

Listen to a guided meditation

“I started having terrible nightmares starting in the second week of the lockdown. To ensure I get restful sleep, I’ve started sleeping with my phone on and earbuds in, playing soft music, meditations, or white noise. Right now, this is what my body needs to keep the nightmares out. It’s almost like the stress of the world comes flooding in while I sleep. This keeps it out and lets my body and brain rest at night.”

—Lisa Dempsey, CEO and leadership coach, Haarlem, The Netherlands

Use a weighted blanket

“I’ve been using a weighted blanket to improve my sleep.  It’s supposed to simulate cuddling, and may release serotonin, which helps with sleep.”

—John Whyte, M.D., chief medical officer at WebMD, Washington, D.C.

Swap out bedtime scrolling for yoga

“Putting away all social media and news a few hours before bed helps me fall asleep, along with doing Rod Stryker’s yoga nidra routine. It is incredibly calming, both physically and emotionally.” 

—Kristin Meekhof, author and life coach, Birmingham, MI

Read a calming book

“Every night, I do about ten minutes of yoga and breathing exercises to quiet the chatter in my mind. I also turn off the TV and pick up a good book to read before bed. Reading always makes me sleepy!”

—Brie LaPrell, accountant, Buffalo, N.Y.

Incorporate movement into your day

“When the coronavirus crisis first began, I noticed I wasn’t feeling tired enough to fall asleep at night, and lying in bed wide awake caused my anxiety to spiral. I realized that I wasn’t moving my body enough during the day, and the lack of movement was contributing to how restless I felt at night. Over the last few weeks, I’ve prioritized taking a walk or a jog when I’m feeling up for it. Ensuring I get some movement throughout the day allows my body and mind to relax so that I can get a good night’s rest.”

—Alyssa Swantkoski, executive assistant, Denver, CO

Repeat a relaxing bedtime mantra

“As I settle down for the night, I try softly saying, ‘Nowhere to be, nothing to do, time to rest.’ I also find it helpful to focus on my breath. Then, I consciously relax my body from the top of my head to my toes. It is a wonderful way of letting go of stress, and allows me to accept the deep nourishment of sleep.” 

—Beverly Landais, coach, Tunbridge Wells, U.K.

Establish a consistent bedtime

“I previously had a horrible habit of using the whole day — right until I hit that pillow — to try and get done as much as possible. I started realizing that it would end up taking me a good hour to wind down afterward, and I’d be groggy, grumpy, and unproductive the next day. I had to change that, so I established an 8:00 pm time to get ready for bed. I open my window to let in the fresh air, do a five-minute meditation to focus on deep breathing, and shake off anxiety from the day.”

—Christine Hourd, personal development coach, Calgary, AB, Canada

Try a breathing exercise

“In order to relax my body and mind and prepare for sleep, I focus on extending my exhales for a count of six or more. I inhale for a count of three through my nose and then exhale for a count of six or more through my mouth. When I exhale through my mouth, I purse my lips and pretend to gently blow out a birthday candle to give my mind a visual to focus on. Doing this for just one to two minutes makes me feel relaxed and ready for sleep.”

—Lisa Abramson, executive coach and mindfulness teacher, Menlo Park, CA

Establish a tech cut-off time

“To improve my sleep during this time, I make sure to turn the news off and put away social media a few hours before bed. I then open the window in the bedroom to let in the fresh air, and do a couple yoga poses to relax my body.”

—Lana Brkic, digital marketer, Los Angeles, CA

Keep your routine consistent

“As someone who has had a sleeping disorder for years, taking actions to improve sleep is a daily commitment. COVID-19 has made this more challenging, but I find that having a consistent routine during the day is key. Moving throughout the day is important so you can be tired at night, and eating lighter meals a few hours before bed also helps.”

—Lisa Cox, writer and disability influencer, Australia 

Do you have a tip that’s been helping you sleep better during this challenging time? Share it with us in the comments!

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