This article was first published on May 31, 2020, and updated on December 22, 2021.
Living in the coronavirus era has brought about a number of significant changes in our lives. This includes wearing face masks whenever we’re outdoors, shelved travel plans, minimal social activities and a new work-from-home culture that has swept the globe. Ultimately, this means we have had to make adjustments to our daily routines and if you’re anything like me, one of the downsides of this is a disrupted sleep cycle.
My relationship with sleep has always been rocky and this goes way back to my university days. Granted, my lifestyle wasn’t exactly the best. I had many late nights due to schoolwork and my then-active social life. I tried multiple ways to combat this problem, including sleeping with the TV playing in the background; tiring myself out with evening workouts; waking up earlier; and so on. I also tried sleep aids like Zzzquil, a product that contains melatonin (which helps regulate sleep cycles) and sold in pharmacies in the US. It worked. Eventually, I didn’t need it anymore after graduating and returning to Singapore.
But since I’ve started working from home due to the Covid-19 situation, the no-sleep monster has slowly crept back into my life. There were nights where I could only fall asleep sometime between 2 am to 5 am in the morning. But I’m not the only one encountering this phenomenon during this period. In fact, it’s normal to feel worried, stressed and anxious during unprecedented times like this.
“This could be related to ‘cabin fever’. Being stuck at home, and having less work, less business, less revenue, and perhaps more work stress, could produce more of the stress hormone known as Cortisol. Therefore, the result is poorer sleep quality and sleeplessness,” said Dr Kenny Pang, ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist of Asia Sleep Centre, in an e-mail interview.
Ideally, a working adult should develop regular sleep patterns, and try to sleep from 11 pm to 7 am daily, added Dr Pang. Getting about seven to eight hours of sleep each night would be perfect. “On weekends, you may get a little more sleep and wake at 8 am, this is to ‘repay’ the sleep debt,” Dr Pang said.
This time around, I decided to tackle the problem head-on and find long-term solutions that could work for me. The fundamentals are these: developing a routine and committing to it. Along with advice by Dr Pang and wellness experts from Amanpuri and Sangha Retreat, here are my tips for the best night's sleep you can have.