Quarantine Got Your Sleep?

Too Good Not to Share

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash.

Some of us are naturally anxious, and some of us have become anxious during these last few weeks of disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s one small trick to help relieve a bit of night-time anxiety: Don’t. Look. At. The. Clock. 

If you’re a person who a) has trouble falling asleep, or b) wakes in the night and can’t go back to sleep, one of the best things you can do is to stop looking at the clock. Really. I almost capitalized and used an exclamation point. Just don’t do it — and don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

 What I realized is that counting and recounting the hours of sleep I can still get or the hours I’ve missed so far, only adds to my anxiety about being awake yet. We still have a clock aimed at the bed, so it takes a bit of self-discipline to avert my eyes when I make my middle of the night trek to the little room next door and back; but it has made a noticeable difference, I promise. When I don’t look at the clock, I am making a choice to avoid input that has much more potential to disrupt my sleep than to enhance it.

If you think about it, in a situation where there’s already anxiety about an early wake-up time or a dreaded meeting the next morning, watching the clock does not work to relieve you of that anxiety. It’s pretty clear that it adds to it. Be honest and think about it. I’ll give you a few seconds…

These days where most of us have no alarms to worry about, it’s a good time to try this experiment for yourself. And, of course, if you don’t have an alarm, eventually, as you roll over and stretch feeling refreshed, you look at the clock and determine that it’s time to get up.

I don’t remember where I came across the idea to not look at the clock once I’m in bed. It goes nicely with mindfulness meditation, so it may have come from the classes I took in the last couple of years (that’s about how long I’ve been doing it), or it may have come from an article that appeared in my online newsfeed somewhere. If you do an internet search for “don’t look at the clock during the night,” you’ll find several sources that back up my experience. Sweet dreams.