The coronavirus pandemic could help your family sleep better
While this might, at first, sound counter-intuitive in these uncertain times, the coronavirus pandemic could help your family sleep better. Yes, it’s true. Hear me out. A lot of the rules around self-isolating and social distancing likely mean you will be spending more time at home and less time being busy. And that could be just what your family needs to slow down and start practicing healthy sleep habits, without the usual distractions of the outside world.
Here is my current take on the pandemic, why there’s an upside to it in terms of sleep and how you can ensure “family time” works to your advantage.
What is a pandemic and why is it a big deal?
A pandemic occurs when disease or illness results in a global outbreak. There are many historic examples, but the most recent pandemic, declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on March 12th 2020, is due to the coronavirus named COVID-19. Health officials are concerned because the virus is new, so it’s hard to predict how it will continue to affect people. Governments are therefore calling for social distancing to help reduce the spread of illness and thus lessen the impact on our hospitals and health resources. These resources, which can already be strained at times, will be largely unable to cope if there is a big influx of people all needing help at the same time.
While New Zealand (NZ) is not as badly affected as a number of other countries around the world, in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases at least, there’s no mistaking the impact it is having on all our lives. From the shortage of toilet paper in supermarkets (!!??) to the postponement of non-essential travel and the cancellation of a large number of community events, it’s fair to say we’ll all be spending much more time at home in the foreseeable future.
Schools in NZ aren’t shut yet, but Easter and the April school holidays are looming, and with no overseas holidays, and a lot of the regular entertainment unlikely to happen, it’s good to be prepared for more home time. In a way, life just got a whole lot simpler. It’s actually a great time to give ourselves permission to slow down and spend quality time with our immediate family.
“It’s actually a great time to give ourselves permission to slow down
and spend quality time with our immediate family.”
How we approach spending time at home can help us cope with the changes. And while it can be highly inconvenient for some, I get that, it’s also the perfect time to work on some basic fundamentals – like sleep.
Why sleep? And why now?
There are already a number of articles coming out on COVD-19 that are focusing on sleep as a way to boost your immune system. This isn’t new information, sleep has always helped our immune system, but it’s a great time to be reminded.
A healthy immune system is a great defence against getting sick, full stop.
Good sleep is also going to help us manage the anxiety we may be feeling around this time of uncertainty. Enough sleep helps us manage anxiety, while sleep problems and lack of sleep compound and effectively cause more anxiety.
There are also a number of other benefits of sleep for all of us (it improves your memory, helps you focus, and makes you look good to boot), but sleep may be even MORE beneficial for our children, especially in their first 3 years of life, as I’ve written about here.
The media and paediatricians are currently reminding us about the importance of staying healthy. This includes simple and reasonable precautions like reminding your child to frequently wash their hands, avoid shaking hands, and letting them spend more time playing outside. Along with this, it’s great to acknowledge that getting enough sleep is also a key way to stay healthy. And it’s the perfect time to break the cycle of childhood sleep deprivation.
Add to this the fact that:
- You cannot travel overseas (unless essential).
- You are expected to spend more time at home.
- There are less social and group activities going ahead, so you’re not missing anything.
- It is getting cooler and darker, which is naturally conducive to good sleep. . .
and it is now much easier to make sleep a priority, without life getting in the way.
With no big changes likely to happen in other parts of your life right now, you and your child have more opportunity to focus on learning great sleep skills and healthy sleep habits, simply because you have more time at home.
Ensuring you make the most out of enforced “family time”
Along with better sleep, you’ll want to make sure you keep the structure to your day. Children thrive on structure and routine. And while these may not be certain times, it is still important your child has a semblance of normality and structure each day (especially if school closes).
Routine is your child’s safe place and it’s much easier to stick to this when there’s no need to be rushing out the door! Make the most of this pandemic “breather” to make sleep a priority. If you have babies and children at home, you can also use this opportunity to give them the routine and structure they crave. In terms of sleep, this includes:
- Getting up around the same time each day
- Sleeping in the same place for naps as night sleep (less “on the go” naps)
- enough outdoor play during the day (this helps with sleep at night)
- limiting screen time (make sure it’s not near bedtime)
- having a predictable bedtime routine
- early bedtimes that happen around the same time each night
- ensuring it’s dark and cool for sleep
This coronavirus pandemic is a prime time to go the extra mile and ensure that both you and your child are getting enough good quality sleep.
Slowing down and spending more time at home means now is a great time to make sleep a priority.
As a society a large proportion of us are living with sleep debt and sleep deprivation and we’ve been too busy to change that – until now. So, let’s make the most of the coronavirus pandemic and make a change for better sleep.
Making sleep a priority is much more likely to leave you feeling rested and rejuvenated instead of stressed and depressed over the current situation, AND it will boost your immune system. This means you’re less likely to catch the coronavirus (or other bugs), and less likely to be anxious about the state of the world.
If you’re ready to make a change for better sleep, but have a child who doesn’t know how to sleep well yet, don’t despair, my sleep packages are designed to help you teach your child to sleep well, without having to cry it out! Book a free initial call and mini sleep evaluation to learn more, and let’s chat about it.
I’m also making it easier for you to get personalised sleep advice during these times, from the comfort of your own home. If sleep is generally OK but you have a short sleep question, I am currently offering email advice for $30 per question (per thread): you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if this is something you’d like to take advantage of.
Alternatively, you may like to discuss sleep over the phone via a short, paid call. You can book these HERE. These calls are great if you have a sleep question or if you’d like to know developmentally appropriate sleep times for your child. Maybe you’re not sure how much sleep your child should be having, you’d like to know the best nap schedule for them during the day or how you can make sleep a priority during these times, please book in a call, I’d love to help! You’ll also be ensuring I can continue working from home while my children are around more often. Thank you for supporting small NZ businesses during these times. ?
Let’s ALL sleep well and make the most of these uncertain times.
Have you got any other positives to add to this pandemic? I’d love to hear them!
Other resources you may find helpful during these times:
https://marshmallowandmint.co.nz/ : boxes of inspiration for creative kids