Wellness coach gives tips to help manage lack of sleep to avoid long-term damage

Posted at 7:49 AM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 15:01:59-05

Sleep has been a challenge for many during this pandemic from stress and anxiety so a wellness coach has tips to help.

"We knew pre-pandemic sleep was already an issue. The CDC indicated in 2018 that at least one-third of U.S. adults were not getting sufficient sleep," said Kelly O'Brien, a board-certified health and wellness coach at Proper Sleep.

She says stress has a profound impact on our well-being and adding a year of isolation due to a pandemic creates even more stress.

"Stress essentially invites that fight or flight. That sympathetic nervous system response in the body. And sleep physiologically says well if you're running from the Saber-toothed tiger, sleep is not what you want right now. So I'm going to go away for a while," O'Brien explained.

And because we're online now more than ever and working remotely, doing zoom meetings, e-mailing, texting or scrolling through social media, it can all disrupt your quality of sleep.

"Additionally, we know that the blue light can be tricky for the brain. It can indicate daylight so the brain wants to read that as I need to be activated and alert," she said.

If you don't get enough sleep, O'Brien warns there are major health consequences on your body.

"Lots and lots of studies indicate that everything from more inflammation in the body, to higher incidence of cardiovascular issues as well as chronic disease," she explained.

And even though a glass of wine, beer or liquor helps you relax and fall asleep?

"It can really impact the quality of our sleep. So again that ability to get into those different sleep stages that help us rest and repair can be hijacked by the alcohol," she warned.

So O'Brien recommends creating a 'wind-down routine' about an hour before you want to go to sleep.

"Reading an old school book can be a great way to kinda help get the body into a more restful state," she said.

O'Brien has other tips that include:

  • Avoid large meals before going to bed
  • Keep caffeine at a minimum
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule
  • Set a bed-time early enough to get at least seven hours of sleep
  • Ban electronic devices next to your bed so you're not tempted to look at your phone
  • Hire a sleep coach who will suggest behavioral changes to help you get higher quality sleep