Tory Tomassetti, Ph.D. | CBT-I and Staff Psychologist
During these unprecedented times, many of us are seeking comfort in routines old and new. We are spending most (or all) of our time at home, with few (or no) social responsibilities. For those of us working from home, the lack of commute means we’re having more family dinners and retiring to the couch earlier than ever. So why can’t we sleep? Many of my clients have been concerned about the difficulties they’ve had sleeping over the past month. Famously solid sleepers are now tossing and turning, getting up throughout the night, or experiencing disturbing dreams. What accounts for this new disturbance?
While increased anxiety may be a culprit, a number of other factors may be contributing to your recent sleep disturbance:
1. Does your day have an arc? Most people start the day with a commute to the office and end the workday with a commute home. Think of this as buffer time that prepares your body and mind for different stages of the day. Without these buffers, or transitions, the brain may be confused about what’s what- and this can extend to sleep.
TIP: start your day with a brief “commute” to the “office.” Put on your shoes (and your face mask) for a quick walk around the block before logging in and starting your workday. Do the same at the end of the day- you’ll get bonus sleep points if you can time your end of day “commute” to coincide with dusk
2. Have you adjusted your screen time in light of new work from home routines? Without breaks to chat with coworkers around the water cooler, many people are spending more time in front of a screen during the workday and even more time in front of the screen for virtual socializing.
TIP: give your eyes a blue light break by going screen-free at least three hours before bedtime.
3. Are you getting enough exercise? With gyms closed, we’ve had to get creative to get in our workouts. A lack of exercise can lead to increased stress and restlessness- two of the biggest enemies of a good night’s sleep.
TIP: twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise- particularly early in the day- will decrease anxiety, boost daytime energy, and help to regulate your sleep cycle. Find a list of free exercise classes here.
If these tips don’t lead to improved sleep, you may benefit from a brief course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I is brief intervention with zero side effects. In only six sessions, you will learn more advanced skills for falling and staying asleep. Contact us for more information.