Even when the world is not dealing with a pandemic, sleep can be a hard thing to come. As the world figures out its next steps, it’s easy for stress to take hold, and that stress can be stopping us from getting a good night’s rest.

Going to bed stressed can, unfortunately, become a cycle. When you lay your head down at night and can’t stop overthinking or feel as though your heart is hammering outside of your chest, your body can’t get into a relaxed state. Instead, as you continue to not sleep, enough your body boosts stress hormones.

According to sleep.org, the brain chemicals connected to deep sleep are also the ones that tell the body to stop the production of stress hormones. The boost of stress hormones that comes with not sleeping only leads to you becoming more stressed, creating a cycle that makes it continually difficult to sleep.

The stress you feel in your day-to-day life can also manifest itself in dreams. During the pandemic, it has become common to hear how people’s dreams are becoming more vivid and strange. They have even been officially dubbed “quarandreams.” This is due to the fact that we’re all stuck at home. Instead of your brain pulling from the things you did and saw that day, it is acclimating to being in the same environment day in and day out. Quarantine is forcing our subconscious to dig into past experiences and other things we might be looking at while home to stitch together a dream with little inspiration.

Additionally, not getting enough sleep due to stress can cause bad moods and a lack of focus. Since most people are currently working from home or attempting to be productive during this time, not being able to focus is less than ideal. How can one effectively participate in conference calls and meetings when their energy is low, and all they want to do is get back into their beds? While at the same time knowing that sleep is elusive. Stress and sleep can create a catch-22.

So here is what can be done to get better sleep:

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy picture
[Image Description: A small bottle of essential oils next lavender.] Via Pexels
Since the pandemic started, I’ve been lulled to sleep by the whirring of a humidifier and the soft sounds of a diffuser. Each night I put essential oils into the diffuser so that the smell of lemon or frank and sense fills my room. These smells help make things more peaceful. This is because aromatherapy is all about allowing scents to affect our brain activity. If you’re someone struggling to fall asleep, consider making a small but helpful change by putting a diffuser into your room.

Meditation

A Black woman with braids wearing an orange top and black yoga pants while mediating outside.
[Image Description: A Black woman with braids wearing an orange top and black yoga pants while meditating outside.] Via Pexels
Luckily sleep troubles are not uncommon, and there are natural remedies out there to help. One of them being meditation. Before it became commonplace for people to meditate, it seemed as though it was a practice restricted to yogis and monks. Those preconceived notions have been proven false as numerous people meditate to quell anxieties and gain moments of peace. It turns out that mindful meditation is especially helpful to those having trouble sleeping. Clearing 20 minutes out of your day to find a quiet spot and meditate can aid in causing your body to be more relaxed and can also help squash racing thoughts.

Journal

A woman sitting in the grass holding a notebook and pen.
[Image Description: A woman sitting in the grass holding a notebook and pen.] Via Pexels
Another natural remedy that can help you work through your stress is journaling. You can take time throughout your day to sit and write down how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking about. Putting down thoughts on paper can lessen the racing thoughts you may deal with at night. It’s always better to sort out exactly what’s causing you stress in order to deal with it. I started journaling during the school year and have found it helpful to work through things I may not be comfortable telling other people.

Living through a pandemic is no easy task. There isn’t a book that can walk all of us through how we “should” be feeling. One thing that we do know is that sleep is a vital part of our daily routines, and we should treat it as such. 

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  • Carol Wright

    Carol Wright is a recent graduate of American University where she received a BA in Journalism and a minor in Business and Entertainment. She is also the founder and Editor in Chief of Nyota Magazine. Nyota focuses on featuring emerging stars in the areas of music, fashion, and culture. When she’s not writing you can find her rewatching New Girl on Netflix.

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