Not Sleeping Right Now? You're Not Alone!

I woke up last week at 3am in the morning absolutely convinced I had COVID symptoms! I almost called Nick, wanting to wake him up to call the ambulance for a trip to my doctor. Really? Yes, really! Of course, after a trip to the bathroom and a few sips of water – I realized nothing was wrong and I had just had a bad dream of “COVID panic”. The next morning, I took to Google to learn more and – this was one of the excellent articles I read. You might appreciate the information and the ideas to make your sleep better.

Now I maximize our (THC FREE) CBD before bed. I take one soft gel and 4 squirts of the CBD sleep spray. As I said in my review of the sleep spray, I tried one squirt up to four squirts and found my level I needed. I did not have to go up to the 6 squirts the manufacturer recommends, you can find your comfort level too. I have also been able to eliminate Tylenol that I was taking each night for workout aches. The soft gel and sleep spray work for me. They might work for you – and I know I can be calmer, more productive and more excited about life with a good night’s sleep. Join me!

Sleep well!

A Harvard sleep expert reveals why you're having so many odd dreams right now — and how to get the rest you need as the world spins out of control

23 hours ago

Turn on the TV, unlock your phone, or open a newspaper right now and you're almost guaranteed to be bombarded with information about one of two major events sweeping the country: the novel coronavirus pandemic, or nationwide protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

These are troubling times for Americans, especially Black Americans, many of whom are exhausted, and traumatized by recent events, and the generations of racial violence that current news stirs up.  

It's no wonder so many people are having trouble sleeping, as evidenced by some of the stories people are sharing on Twitter using the hashtag #CoronaDreams. One user dreamt she found out that a new symptom of the coronavirus was being haunted by ghosts. Another user tweeted she dreamed about being in a Japanese manga series combined with a Black Lives Matter protest. 

If you're having trouble sleeping, you're definitely not alone. Crises tend to increase vivid and anxious dreams, according to Deirdre Barrett, an author and psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School. 

"Dreams are more intense and likelier to be nightmares for those most involved: people of color, people in the neighborhoods where any of the violence during protests has happened, those out protesting — again especially where the protests were met with violence," Barrett, author of the book "Pandemic Dreams," and "The Committee of Sleep," told Business Insider. 

Black Americans, people of color, and those protesting racism, and police brutality are more likely to not be sleeping well right now, experts said. David 'Dee' Delgado/Getty Images

Barrett specializes in dream research after traumatic events. She studied people's dreams in the wake of 9/11, the Arab Spring, and other events. Her most current project is studying people's dreams during the pandemic, using an online form. More than 3,000 people have responded, and a few clear themes have emerged.  

"Bugs. Bugs seem to be a common stand in for the pandemic. I think that's because we use the term 'bug' as slang for an infection or virus," said Barrett, who added that many people are dreaming of cockroaches and worms. "I think it's because lots of little things that can add up and hurt you, that's a good metaphor for the virus." 

Barrett also said she's seeing a lot of "invisible monsters," noting that people may be having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that they cannot see the danger they face, the virus. 

Healthcare workers are having recurring nightmares, a potential symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition of persistent mental and emotional distress resulting from severe psychological shock, she said.

If you've been having trouble sleeping, Barrett and other sleep experts have a few key tips.

Understand what dreams can tell you about how you're feeling.

What are dreams anyway? And why are they often so strange? 

Barrett said dreams are our brain's way of continuing to process information and emotion when we sleep. We still are thinking about the day's events, professional issues, our fears, our fantasies, except we're thinking about them in a different way. 

"Our dreaming brain is even more active in areas of visual thinking and emotion, and it's significantly less active in areas associated with verbal reasoning and linear logic. So we think very differently, very intuitively, very visually," she said.  

In the absence of much logical thinking, our dreams can twist and turn from one topic to another. And they can be somewhat frightening to think about once you wake up. That's because our life's stressors don't go away when we sleep. Often stressful dreams are our mind's way of processing anxiety or worry, she said.

Indeed leading theories right now say that dreams occur during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, and that dreams are an important part of processing emotion, said Lauren Asarnow, assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and clinical psychologist and specialist in behavioral sleep medicine.  

Make time to process your emotions during the day.

Scheduling a time to think about your busy day or having a friend or family member to process the day with can help improve your sleep. 

"Take time to check in with yourself and your loved ones, connect and process all of the feelings that this strange time we are living in inevitably bring up," Asarnow said. "Remember your sleeping life is very much connected to your waking life."

Don't have caffeine at least six hours before bed.

Researchers at Michigan's Henry Ford Hospital's Sleep Disorders & Research Center and Wayne State College of Medicine analyzed the sleep-disruptive effects of caffeine consumption at different times before bedtime. They found that that caffeine consumed even six hours before bed significantly reduced a person's quality of sleep. So if you go to bed at 10 p.m., don't consume caffeine after 4 p.m.  

Eat more fruits, vegetables, and choose whole grains. Avoid snacking before bed.

While researchers aren't exactly sure why, a 2016 study in the journal Advances in Nutrition titled "Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality" found that diets higher in fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, promoted better quality of sleep. But it's not only what you eat, but when you eat. 

A 2011 study of about 50 people in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that eating at night kept people up longer. To be safe, avoid snacking before bed.

During stressful times, avoid the news or social media before bed.

"Going to bed feeling safe and secure can decrease the frequency of nightmares," Asarnow said.

During a crisis, it's probably best to avoid the news or social media while you're in bed as it can cause stress and impact your dreams, said Patrick Porter, author of "Thrive in Overdrive" and creator of Brain Tap, a headset device and app to help with stress. 

Instead, pick up a book. Reading for just a few minutes helps reduce stress, a 2009 study from the University of Sussex found. In addition, dimming the lights in the hour or two before bed has been shown to help people fall asleep faster.

President Barack Obama and Bill Gates are known to read for at least a half hour before bed.

Don't be alarmed by strange dreams, but seek help if they're interfering with your life.

Try not to get scared of your dreams or nightmares, but if you are concerned, seek professional help. 

"These dreams, while they are often distressing and disruptive to your sleep, are no cause for alarm in and of themselves. This too, shall pass. And always remember to reach out to your doctor or mental health care provider if you have questions or concerns," Asarnow said.