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COVID-somnia driving people to buy into sleep help

HOUSTON – Emotions like stress, worry, anxiety are known to lead to sleep loss.

Ironically, sleeping is what can also help with mood, reducing anxiety, improving your immune system and coping with challenges. While Texas ranks high for sleep struggles, the pandemic has made it worse.

For Khaliah Guillory, her passion is helping busy moms, professionals and plain stressed-out people get better rest.

“I am on a mission to solve the $411 billion (with a B) U.S. economic loss due to sleep deprivation,” Guillory said.

Her business, Nap Bar Houston, is a Galleria brick-and-mortar that allowed people to pay for a safe, clean sleep space. Since it’s deemed “non-essential” she’s currently closed and revamping her business model to an online subscription where she ships items that can assist with a better night’s rest.

“Here is the better sleep box,” Guillory explained. “There’s also a soy-based candle inside the box as well as our vegan pillow mist which is ‘pillow talk’ and also a sleep mask.”

Sleep experts say these small tokens can help you wind down and along with healthy sleep habits, you can sleep.

How can you curb COVID-19-induced insomnia?

Here are tips from MD Anderson’s Sleep Center Director:

  • Stick to a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Resist sleeping in.
  • Follow a daily routine. Doing the same thing each day and having a steady daily routine increases your likelihood of sleeping well at night.
  • Engage in light physical activity. When you’re stuck at home, you may need to get creative. Walk up and downstairs, lift soup cans or find a yoga video online. Be sure to stop exercising at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise, you may have trouble falling asleep.
  • Stay socially connected. In the time of COVID-19, cancer patients need social connection more than ever. While it’s important to stay physically apart from others or prevent the spread of COVID-19, keep in touch with friends through online support groups, social media, email or phone calls.
  • Open window shades and blinds. Letting light into your house during the day helps your body regulate sleep.
  • Keep naps short. Limit naps to no more than 30 minutes, and don’t nap after 2 p.m.
  • Keep work out of the bedroom. If your job has shifted from the office to home, set up a separate work area away from the bedroom. Bedrooms are for sleeping, and should not be associated with work, which can be stressful.
  • Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
  • Avoid alcohol before going to bed. Alcohol may at first lull you to sleep, but it interferes with sleep during the night, causing you to wake up frequently. The rule is, no alcohol within four hours of bedtime. And be sure to limit all alcohol intake, as alcohol can damage cells and lead to cancer. If you choose to drink, the National Cancer Institute recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men have no more than two drinks per day. For cancer prevention, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether.
  • Avoid heavy or spicy foods four hours before bedtime. Upset stomach and heartburn interfere with sleep.
  • Turn off digital devices an hour before bedtime. Computers, TVs, tablets, cellphones and gaming systems emit blue light, a color in the visible light spectrum. Blue light is a short wavelength, which means it produces higher amounts of energy. It also interferes with production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Studies show that screens, digital technology and the need to be connected electronically 24/7 cause many people to sleep two to three hours less than the minimum required amount.
  • Wind down an hour before bedtime. Take a warm bath or shower, read a book or listen to soothing music.
  • Create an ideal sleeping environment. Darken the bedroom and set the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees for perfect sleeping conditions. Use a white noise machine to block extraneous noise.
  • Cut yourself some slack. Don’t worry about what you didn’t accomplish. Give yourself permission to do it later.