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COVID 19 has been changing the sleep habits of our young people. Lack of sleep can compromise our immune systems. Helping our youth and ourselves to get in a healthy cycle of sleep can be challenging but is really important for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Here are some helpful tips to getting healthy sleep.
1. Get right with the light
When you’re exposed to light, your brain stops producing melatonin, the sleep hormone. This makes you feel awake and alert.
Darkness tells your brain to make more melatonin, so you feel drowsy.
In the morning, exposing yourself to light can help you wake up. Try opening the curtains, taking a walk, or relaxing on the porch.
At night, prime yourself for sleep by turning off or dimming bright lights. You should also avoid glowing electronic screens from computers, smartphones, or television, as they can stimulate your brain for several hours.
2. Practice relaxation
Making time for relaxation might help you sleep better.
When you’re stressed or anxious, your body produces more cortisol, the stress hormone. The higher the cortisol, the more awake you feel.
Creating a relaxing bedtime ritual may reduce stress and its negative effects on sleep.
Focus on calming activities, such as: 3. Skip naps
If your sleep schedule is out of whack, avoid naps during the day. Napping can make it difficult to go back to sleep at night.
Long naps might also cause grogginess, which is the result of waking up from deep sleep.
If you must nap, aim for less than 30 minutes. It’s also best to nap before 3 p.m. so your nighttime sleep isn’t disrupted.
4. Get daily exercise
One way to reset your internal clock is get regular exercise.
Most of your tissues — including skeletal muscle — are linked to your biological clock. So, when you work out, muscle responds by aligning your circadian rhythm.
Exercise also helps you sleep better by promoting melatonin production.
Thirty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may improve your sleep quality that same night. However, you’ll get the best results if you exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (this can be walking) at least five times a week.
Keep in mind that evening exercise can over stimulate your body. If you want to exercise at night, do it at least one to two hours before bedtime.
5. Avoid noise
A quiet sleeping environment is a must for a good night’s rest.
Your brain continues to process sounds, even as you snooze. Loud, distracting noises can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
To remove loud noises, keep your television out of the bedroom and turn it off before bedtime. Turn off your cell phone or use the “silent” setting.
If you live in a noisy neighborhood, white noise can help you get quality sleep.
White noise is a soothing, steady sound that masks environmental noise. You can create white noise by using a:
Just before bedtime, your body temperature drops to prepare for sleep.
A cool bedroom temperature — between 60 and 67°F (15 to 19°C) — will help you feel comfortable and doze off.
One 2012 study Trusted Source from the National Institutes of Health found that the temperature of the room where you sleep is one of the most important factors in achieving quality sleep.
Anything below 54°F (12°C) or higher than 75°F (24°C) might disrupt your slumber, so be sure to adjust your thermostat.
You can also use an air conditioner or fan during warmer weather, or a space heater during cold weather. These offer the extra benefit of creating white noise.
7. Eat early
A late dinner can delay sleep, so eat your last meal two to three hours before bed. This will give your body enough time to digest the meal.
Eating dinner around the same time each day will also get your body used to a routine.
It matters what you eat, too. Heavy, high-fat meals might disrupt sleep because they take a while to digest.
If you’re hungry, eat a light snack. The best foods for sleep include a combination of carbs and protein, such as wheat toast and almond butter.
Avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or energy drinks. As a stimulant, caffeine takes several hours to wear off, so have your last cup before mid-afternoon.
It’s also best to skip alcohol before bed. A nightcap might make you drowsy, but alcohol actually disrupts your body’s healthy rhythm, making it difficult to sleep well.
8. Keep it regular
If you want to fix your sleep schedule, it helps to make one first.
Choose a bedtime and wake-up time. Stick to these times every day, even on weekends or days off. Try to avoid staying up or sleeping in for more than one to two hours.
By following a regular schedule, your internal clock can develop a new routine. Over time, you’ll be able to fall asleep and wake up with ease.
10. Talk with your doctor
It’s normal to have sleep problems every now and then.
Usually, changing behaviors or habits can restore your routine. But if sleep troubles persist, visit your doctor.
You might have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. If so, a sleep specialist can guide you through proper treatment.
The bottom line
Shift work, all-nighters, and jet lag can mess with your sleep schedule. Fortunately, practicing good sleep hygiene can get you back on track.
Before bed, avoid bright lights and heavy meals. Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable, quiet, and cool. During the day, stay active and skip naps so you can sleep better.
If you still can’t sleep well, visit to your doctor.
Exerpts from Web MD
Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH — Written by Kirsten Nunez on February 12, 2019
I don’t know about you, but for me this COVID 19 Pandemic is getting way past old! It has me longing for a vaccine. I think this situation has even non-medical people thinking about vaccines and wondering why it is taking so long. I found this WebMD article online and it talks about what a vaccine is, and why it takes so long and what we might expect to see regarding the COVID 19 vaccine.
As the new coronavirus continues to spread, people around the world are anxious to know when we might have a vaccine to stop it.
What Would a COVID-19 Vaccine Do?
When you come into contact with viruses or bacteria, your body’s immune system makes antibodies to fight them off.
A vaccine forces your immune system to make antibodies against a specific disease, usually with a dead or weakened form of the germs. Then, if you come into contact with them again, your immune system knows what to do. The vaccine gives you immunity, so you don’t get sick or so your illness is much milder than it otherwise would have been.
A vaccine against COVID-19 would slow its spread around the world. Fewer people would get sick, and more lives could be saved.
How Are Vaccines Developed?
So how long could a COVID-19 vaccine take? More than 100 possible vaccines are in various stages of development around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Some have begun human clinical trials. But certain things can’t be rushed, like how long it takes a person’s immune system to respond to a vaccine or the wait to check for side effects.
Even when researchers find a vaccine that works against the new coronavirus, it could be 12 to 18 months at best before it’s ready for the public. That’s only a fraction of the usual time.
Before any vaccine can be used widely, it must go through development and testing to make sure that it’s effective against the virus or bacteria and that it doesn’t cause other problems. The stages of development generally follow this timeline:
Coronavirus Vaccine ProgressThis version of the coronavirus only surfaced in late 2019, but scientists have gotten a boost from research on similar coronaviruses that cause severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). Efforts to fight those diseases played a role in the record speed of the COVID-19 vaccine trials that are underway.
Some of the vaccines that are now in trials use messenger RNA (mRNA). This is what carries the instructions for making the “spike” protein that lets the virus enter human cells. The mRNA vaccine tells your immune cells to make the protein and act as if they’ve already been infected with the coronavirus, giving you some immunity against it.
Another candidate uses DNA that’s designed to trigger an immune response to the virus.
Several vaccines have weakened versions of the adenovirus, one of the viruses that causes the common cold. It’s been combined with genes from the new coronavirus’ spike protein to trigger your immune system to fight it.
Other vaccines that aren’t yet in clinical trials teach your immune system to target the coronavirus by using versions of the spike protein or the virus itself.
Some of the companies working on vaccines are also looking for ways to ramp up production quickly when the clinical trials find one that works safely. With more than 300 million people in the United States alone, mass vaccination will be a joint effort among several companies and government agencies.
Experts say the coronavirus could turn out to be seasonal, like colds and the flu. A vaccine might not be ready until after the current pandemic is over, but it may be vital if the cycle begins again.