How to Sleep When the World Is Falling Apart

It’s not easy to relax in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. But there are some simple tips and techniques that can help you get some shut-eye. DrLullaby’s founder, Lisa Medalie, PsyD, DBSM contributes to this Wired article, explaining how disruptive pandemic anxiety is to sleep, why you need “me time”, and what should be in the bedroom. “I am seeing a significant spike in insomnia at this time during the pandemic,” says Lisa Medalie, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the University of Chicago Who Needs Sleep? Unfortunately, life amid Covid-19 disrupts that sleep in any number of ways. There’s the anxiety, sure, not just about the disease itself but about financial security, childcare, and all the other ancillary effects of a society in suspended animation. “If you’re not tackling those problems head-on during the day, then when it’s just you and your brain at night and there’s no distractions, all of those problems, all those worries, all those stressers are going to come bubbling to the surface,” says Medalie. “The thoughts are going to produce emotional responses, the emotional responses are going to produce more thoughts, and the realization that time has passed and you’re not sleeping produces anxiety.” Night Sweats You can still take steps to manage it, though, especially as night falls. And it starts with not doing anything at all. “Make sure you have a scheduled hour of ‘me time,’” particularly if you’re sheltering in place with others,” says Medalie. “Everybody needs at least one hour by themselves.” A to Zzzzz Getting good sleep involves more than just clearing your head. The experts WIRED spoke with all agree that clearing your bedroom is just as important. “The bedroom should just be a bedroom. Just a room for your bed, and maybe your dresser, and nothing else in there,” says Medalie. “Sleep and sex are the only two things that should happen in the bedroom.”