Tips for Taking Control of Your Sleep

(July 22, 2021)

What is “Revenge Sleep”?

I recently read an article in the Washington Post entitled, “Tips to stop ‘revenge bedtime procrastination.’” I was fascinated that yet another side effect of the recent pandemic has led to something harmful to our health. Time and time again, we are inundated with news reports and magazine articles about what we have lost over the last 15 months or so. The losses are real, stressful and hard to ignore. It seems to me that we should be working to help ourselves out of the negativity of the past year. But, as the Washington Post article seemed to indicate, we are far from doing that and “revenge sleep” is just another example. 

With the recent pandemic and blurred lines between work and home life, sleep has become a larger issue for many people. “Revenge bedtime procrastination” is the new trend of putting off sleep to make time for “me time.” As many people continue to work from home, finding balance between meeting work demands and personal demands has become difficult. Now, a self-care need we all have – sleep, is in jeopardy. Some individuals are actually forgoing sleep to take time to pursue social media, watch a favorite show, give themselves a facial or talk with friends. All of these activities are important, but when sleep is sacrificed for more me time, it could signal a larger issue with boundaries that limit someone’s control over time. 

Sleep is one of the body’s basic needs for functioning.

Research shows that adults need 7 plus hours of sleep a night. We all know what it feels like to get a bad night’s sleep. We know how hard it can be to function the next day. Research shows that poor sleep can lead to decreased brain function. This can lead to weight gain and contribute to a decrease in our exercise performance. More and more people are reporting poor sleep quality  as the many demands of life have increased. Life is stressful. Stress hormones impact sleep. 

When we are stressed, the hormone cortisol is released in our bodies, and this can disrupt normal sleep rhythms. It’s a vicious cycle, we feel stress, and we lose sleep. The less sleep we get, the lower our ability to make decisions, react positively to change and manage disruptions in our daily life. Researchers have shown that chronic fatigue can lead to depression and feeling “foggy.” The production of cortisol is reduced at nighttime while we sleep. If you are up perusing social media and stimulating your brain, there is potential for more cortisol in your body. You are creating the possibility of increased sleep deprivation.

The last year and a half has been a struggle.

There is no denying that. Many things about a pandemic we can not control, but there are some we can! Don’t let Covid cause revenge sleep for you. Follow some of the tips below to help control your time in a way that promotes healthier sleep and a healthier you.

  • Set an alarm for yourself one hour before your normal bedtime and stick with it. Plan a bedtime you can be consistent with, for example, 10 PM. Set your phone alarm for 9 and begin to decompress.
  • Turn off screens and social media. The more screen time, the more time your brain is stimulated by the bright lights and intake of information.
  • Take a bath or shower, something that relaxes you and helps your body begin to wind down.
  • Start deep breathing. This can be a very healthy part of your nighttime routine. Practice by closing your eyes and taking a deep breath in through your nose. Exhale with a long breath out through your mouth. Repeat this breath cycle 7-10 times to help relax muscles and help your brain turn off those cycling thoughts about the day.
  • Schedule time for yourself each day. Take a break during the day for a walk or any self-care activity you find enjoyable. Making sure you set this time aside allows you to meet your needs without disrupting your sleep.
  • Stick with your plan; you are worth it! You would not hesitate to get your child to their practice or help another family member make a doctor’s appointment on time. Your ability to get much needed rest on a daily basis and meet your own needs allows you to be your best for yourself and for others.
  • Create a physical boundary in your home to divide work and living space. If you work from home, it is helpful to have your workstation in a separate room or to place a divider between your work desk/computer and your living space. Set a timer to let you know when you need to leave your office space. Create a healthy boundary between work time, you time and family time.

Don’t Let “Revenge Sleep” Get You Down! 

Establishing these boundaries in your day and meeting your needs for structure and sleep will promote a healthier you. Getting the 7 hours of sleep a night you need will help you physically by decreasing stress hormones and giving you the energy you need to actually live more peacefully. You will find yourself having more energy to exercise and better focus to make daily decisions. You may find yourself feeling more positive and less anxious as well.

If you continue to struggle with sleep and creating healthier routines for yourself, it might be time to talk to someone about boundaries and ways to cope with anxiety or depression that might be limiting your ability to destress and focus on healthy habits. If you feel like you are more anxious and depressed and would like to talk to someone for support, please contact us at 217-203-2008, or via email.