For many people, sleeping well has always been a challenge. But in these unique and uncertain times, it’s no surprise that many of us are really struggling with sleep.
One of the greatest challenges during these times of lockdown is the ever present sense of anxiety that seems to be floating around.
There is really no escaping from it. The media is wall-to-wall speculation, harrowing news and endless uncertainty. Social media is packed full of rumours, conspiracies and anxiety. And many people are physically separated from their normal support networks – be it friends, family or work colleagues.
Given all of these factors, it’s really no surprise that many of us our really suffering when it comes to sleep. Sleep is the time when our brains are left free to run riot, and process the distressing events, worries and information of the previous day.
Bad sleep directly effects how we behave and feel the next day, and leads to a vicious circle, as our mood is affected and we have less energy to cope with the days and challenges.
Sleep is more important than ever, and plays a huge role in how healthy we are – both mentally and physically. So it’s well worth considering any ways that you can improve the quality of your sleep during this tricky time.
Here are a few tips to help you:
Create an evening routine
If you find your brain racing as soon as you get into bed, creating a proper evening routine may be a huge help.
Put your electronic devices away a few hours before bed, and spend 60-90 minutes slowly winding down. Try to start your routine at the same time every night, so it becomes a habit that your body adapts to.
Reading a novel is a great way to do this, or do something creative, which you enjoy.
Take it easy and listen to music you like and find comforting. Keep the lights low and you’ll find your mind is much more prepared for the sleep ahead, and that sleep comes far more easily.
Wake up a little earlier
These are challenging times for many people, especially if your normal normal routine have been totally disrupted.
It can be tempting to treat everyday as a weekend – especially if you’re not currently working – but routine is valuable to our body’s natural rhythms, and also to our mental health.
Try to maintain a steady wake up time. This will give your day structure, and prevent your sleep patterns from slipping unnaturally.
Listen to music
In these stressful, anxiety filled times, one of the best forms of therapy is undoubtedly music. Studies have shown that listening to music you enjoy releases dopamine into your body.
This can improve your mood, and make you feel more relaxed instantly.
Music offers incredible sanctuary, and a sense of communication and understanding. Make time to listen to the music that is meaningful to you, and enjoy how it makes you feel.
Play music more often than you may normally do. Keep it on in the background, and consider playing it at night to calm and relax you – even while you sleep.
While many of us across the globe remain in lockdown situations, the need to exercise is more important than ever. Whether you can get outside and benefit from the sunlight’s Vitamin D, or are stuck inside, exercise can be a hugely helpful coping mechanism.
It can be tempting to let things like exercise slip, given the current circumstances, but exercise releases more feel-good hormones, and importantly, it also helps with sleep at night. Try to exercise at least a few hours before bed.
There also seems to be consensus that obesity is a major risk factor for Covid-19. There has never been a better time to put a concerted effort into improving your health and wellbeing generally.
Focus on adding exercise into your routine, and on eating more healthily if you can. Try to avoid sugary and processed foods, and focus on eating a variety of vegetables and fruits.
It may be something of a cliche, but we truly are all in this together. Staying connected to the world, can keep things in perspective and help you to feel better.
Use technology to communicate with friends and family. Or find connection in podcasts, books, films and music that is meaningful to you.
Respond to dreams
A common theme that many people are reporting is more vivid dreams, and more anxiety-ridden dreams. Waking in the night, from dark and unpleasant dreams can be extremely unpleasant, and it seems that our brains are working overtime to process the anxiety that we may be pushing down during the day.
If you wake in the night, it can be helpful to get up for a few minutes, to separate yourself from the dream, before going back to sleep. Otherwise you may slip straight back into the dream.
Another good tip is to put on some relaxing music, or to listen to a podcast or the radio. Grounding yourself in reality can be helpful.
So there’s a few tips that we hope will help you a little, please feel free to share your thoughts below. Stay safe!