If you’ve found yourself tossing and turning at night since the start of the pandemic, you’re not alone. So many people are suffering from a lack of sleep caused by the stress and uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic that experts have dubbed the phenomenon “coronasomnia.” But sleepless nights don’t just cause brain fog the following day—long-term insomnia increases your risk of suffering from anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and other health problems.
I can attest that coronasomnia is real, and over the past several months, I’ve tried all sorts of tips and tricks to try to fall asleep—and stay asleep. If you suffer from insomnia, too, some of these suggestions might be just what you need to get a good night’s rest.
Stick to a schedule, even when you’re working from home. Lockdowns and shuttered offices have upended many people’s daily routines, but experts say that sticking to a schedule is key to keeping your circadian rhythms intact. Even though your “morning commute” might now involve nothing more than walking from your bedroom to your living room, resist the temptation to sleep in and stay up late. On your lunch break, take a walk—exercise reduces stress, and sunlight helps maintain normal circadian rhythms.
A nighttime routine is important, too. Whether it’s a soothing cup of chamomile tea or a grounding foot massage with warm oil, having a bedtime ritual can help you wind down and prep your brain and body for sleep. Turn off your devices—the blue light from cellphones and laptops can interfere with the body’s release of natural melatonin—dim the lights, and light some soy candles. Don’t do anything in your “sleep zone” that isn’t conducive to rest and relaxation.
Make (vegan) golden milk. A little sweet and a little spicy, golden milk is a time-tested Ayurvedic treat that reduces inflammation (thanks to the key ingredient, turmeric) and can help you drift into dreamland. Traditionally made with cow’s milk and ghee (clarified butter), golden milk can easily be veganized by using your favorite nondairy milk and vegan ghee (or skip the ghee altogether, which is what I usually do). Vegan golden milk recipes are easy to find online.
Pasta lovers, rejoice. Dr. Neal Barnard, author of Your Body in Balance, suggests building dinner around starchy foods like pasta, potatoes, and rice. These complex carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Eat almond butter. If you do wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, try eating a teaspoon or two of almond butter. Almonds contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that helps regulate sleep. This simple tip really works!
Learn to meditate. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that people who learned mindfulness meditation reported less insomnia, fatigue, and depression than those who completed a sleep education class. Meditation apps are readily available. One of my colleagues recommends meditation music and has found that calming music used for dogs works great on humans, too.
Check out melatonin and CBD oil. If you suffer from sleeplessness, you likely already know about melatonin. (Supplements are most often made synthetically, but melatonin can be sourced from animals, so be sure to read the labels.) Many people swear by it, but I’ve found melatonin supplements to be hit or miss … until I tried one that also contains CBD oil. CBD Living’s Vegan PM Gummies are potent enough that half a gummy is all I need for a restful night. I’m also a fan of the brand’s chai turmeric tea.
I hope some of these tips help you sleep well once again. Have a good night!