Sleep in the age of the Corona-virus
I have always had trouble sleeping, but I am not the kind of person that can function effectively on two or three hours of sleep.
Lack of sleep became a major problem for me around age 23, when I was fresh out of college, living alone, and working two jobs.
Not being able to sleep was seriously impacting my life, and I often turned to alcohol to solve the problem. Several years later, I finally realized I could improve my sleep problem with less caffeine, stress management, better lifestyle choices, and by finding a job that allowed me to follow my body’s natural sleep cycle.
This article highlights a variety of natural solutions to improve sleep, including changes I made in my personal life.
- Melatonin supplements
A favorite among people who need to sleep during the day, melatonin is a hormone that tells your brain it’s time to go to bed.
I know several people who take melatonin pills to help them fall asleep, but the supplement did not work for me.
- Lavender aromatherapy
As noted in my article about essential oils, lavender has a soothing fragrance believed to improve sleep and relaxation. Personally, I use lavender as a pillow spray or have my partner give me a massage with lavender oil before bedtime.
Studies suggest lavender is more effective for women.
- Passion flower tea
The passion flower or maypop has long been used as an herbal remedy to treat insomnia. Studies suggest passion flower is more effective when consumed as a tea than as a supplement.
For me, the act of sipping hot tea while reading a book at night helps reduce anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Glycine supplements
Glycine is an amino acid that promotes sleep by interacting with the nervous system and lowering body temperature.
CBD for sleep
This is something that became available only recently. My favorite product so far is a nighttime tincture sold by Nanocraft that contains melatonin, CBD, passionflower, and melatonin.
You can apply the drops directly under your tongue or mix them in a drink. I find this product effective but unaffordable. A 1 oz. bottle costs $60.
- Lifestyle changes
In addition to the supplements listed above, there are several changes you can make to your evening routine that may help you sleep:
- Avoid caffeine in the evening even if caffeine does not make you feel energized
- Avoid screens (including your phone) before bedtime
- Do not use your bed for anything other than sleeping and sex
- Listen to relaxing music
- Read a book
- Write in a journal
- Masturbate or have sex
As I mentioned earlier, what worked for me was adjusting caffeine intake (I stop at 3pm), managing stress (I make time for relaxation), and following my body’s natural sleep cycle.
By “natural sleep cycle,” I mean the time of night (or day) that your body naturally prefers to sleep. My father, for example, naturally wakes up around 5am no matter what time he goes to bed at night. He prefers to go to sleep around 10pm.
My body prefers to sleep around 2am and wake up around 10am. It is nearly impossible to make myself fall asleep any earlier. As you can imagine, this was a major problem when I had to be at work at 8am.
Today, I work from home and follow my body’s clock as much as possible. I find my peak productivity hours to be between 7pm and 11pm, and that is when I do my best work.
You can determine your body’s natural sleep cycle by going to sleep only when tired and allowing your body to wake up naturally (don’t set an alarm). Do this for a few days and see if you notice a pattern.
A final note: It is very important to avoid using antihistamines such as Benadryl for sleep purposes. Research suggests that frequent consumption of antihistamines as a sleep aid can lead to sleep walking and other sleep disorders.