This information is intended for people who have to stay indoors for an extended period of time. If you are sleep deprived because of lack of opportunity to sleep (e.g., frontline health professionals, support workers, caregivers), please prioritize sleep and rest as much as you are able to.
Prevent and tackle signs of insomnia
Having some nights when you don’t sleep well during a stressful period is expected. The recommendations below can help prevent turning one night’s poor sleep into many nights of insomnia.
What to do after a poor night’s sleep?
- Get up at the same time as you usually do. It sounds counter intuitive. However, staying in bed longer to catch up on lost sleep could negatively affect your body clock (see above) so it does not optimally support your sleep. Also, waking up later than usual could make it even harder to sleep well the following night. It might comfort you to know that our body makes up for sleep loss by sleeping deeper, which is as important as sleeping longer.
- Go to bed the following night around or after your usual bedtime. This means not going to bed too early. If we go to bed much earlier, it could make getting to sleep even harder. Even if you fall asleep fast, you are likely to have more wakefulness in the middle of the night or wake up too early.
- Remain active and avoid/minimize napping during the day. If you are so tired that you unintentionally doze off, take a brief catnap (10-20 minutes). Otherwise, skip naps during the day, unless you are in a situation where sleep deprivation is a safety issue.
- Worrying about sleep makes it harder to sleep. After a poor night sleep, it’s understandable to think “how am I going to sleep well tonight?”, “how can I cope with not sleeping well?”. These thoughts actually make us feel more anxious around sleep and bedtime and make sleep harder. Try telling yourself: “I can’t force myself to sleep. Let me focus on relaxing each part of my body, and rest. Sleep will come at its own time.”
- Trust your body’s sleep system. When you lose that trust and become overly concerned about sleep, you are making it harder for your sleep system to do its job.
What to do when you cannot get to sleep?
- The best thing to do is to take a break from trying to sleep. Most of us have been t