29 May Struggling to Sleep during Lockdown??
Do you struggle to sleep? Is your sleeping pattern all over the place?
Maybe you’re sleeping more than usual? Or maybe less?
Life is a bit different at the moment. And its completely normal for this to have thrown your daily routine out of sync.
Things such as your commute to work, when you eat, how long you spend outdoors, how often you socialise and how often you spend with your family are just a few things that may have changed recently.
As well as effecting your daily life, these daily changes will have an effect on your circadian rhythm, which is your body’s internal clock and helps to regulate your sleeping pattern.
So, in light of all of this, here are a few reasons as to why you’re struggling with sleep at the moment:
Your body clock is all over the place
Your circadian rhythm is responsible for controlling hormones as well as your body’s temperature, and these are two essential factors that help you remain alert through the day and more fatigued at night.
There are two overriding forces that help to align your circadian rhythm, and these are mealtimes as well as your exposure to natural light. With current social distancing measures, and quarantining, these factors may well have changed for you, especially time spent outdoors.
When people feel worried and uncertain about things, falling asleep at night becomes difficult, and this is completely normal.
As a result of this, stress levels can increase, and this results in an increase in the stress hormone cortisol and can hit your sleeping pattern. Stress hormones control your sleep-wake cycle.
As the evening draws in, your cortisol levels will naturally drop, working down to their lowest point at around midnight. However, if these levels are elevated in the evenings and as you go to bed, then it’s likely to disrupt your sleeping pattern.
A lack of sleep can also be described as ‘sleep debt’, and can affect you both mentally and physically, leaving you feeling very tired and fatigued. Consistent sleep deprivation will affect your alertness, performance as well as your memory and immunity.
So how can we improve sleep during this time??
Here are some ways to help improve your sleep:
Create a new routine
Things could well be very new for you right now. You may be working from home for the first time, or you may not even be working at all. Whatever your situation is, it’s important to find a routine for your body and mind.
A routine will help your get your natural circadian rhythm back on track.
The first simple step is to assess your sleep-wake cycle. As easy as it sounds, when you feel tired, go to bed. And try to wake without the help of an alarm.
Initially, you may well sleep more than you usually do, but with a bit of persistence over a week or two you will find that you will soon rediscover your natural sleeping pattern.
Create a chilled bedroom environment
In your bedroom, it can be beneficial to remove electronic devices. You ideally want to create a sleeping environment that is stress free, cool, dark and quiet.
Think of your bedroom as a place of peace and for rest. By doing the above you will begin to associate this room with those traits. Don’t use it as a place for tv or PlayStation.
By removing stimulating electronic devices, which emit artificial light, you will ultimately be able to relax more and get the body and mind ready for sleep.
The reason artificial light isn’t good for your circadian rhythm, it’s because it confuses your body’s internal clock and makes it believe that daylight has been extended. This can impact the quality, and quantity of your sleep.
If you’re a power napping fan, now’s the time to try and knock this habit on the head (for now anyway). When you try to create your new routine, it’s essential you try and engage with your body’s natural circadian rhythm as much as possible and napping throughout the day may disrupt this in the beginning.
Try to get rid of napping during the day. To engage with your body’s natural circadian rhythm, avoid napping as it may well disrupt your nightly sleep.
Stop drinking caffeine post 12pm
Coffee, tea, and coke — they all contain caffeine, which can also negatively affect sleep. While we all respond to caffeine in different ways, there’s one thing for sure — it’s a stimulant, which can impact sleep quality.
High caffeine drinks such as tea, coffee and coke can all impact your sleep. They are highly stimulating. Therefore, try and avoid these drinks after 12pm. This gives your body enough time to eliminate the caffeine from the body before bedtime.
Doing aerobic exercise and resistance training positively affects sleep, however, the timing of your exercise is very important. Avoid doing any kind of forceful exercise prior to going to bed, as exercise awakes your happy hormones and acts as a stimulant, which could in turn make it more difficult to fall asleep.
Exercise is renowned for helping sleep and rest patterns. However, the timing of your sleep could also be affecting your sleep. Try to avoid stimulating exercise before you go to bed, as this will awaken ‘happy’ hormones which can also act as a stimulant. Making it more difficult to sleep.
Before you go to bed, its commonplace to reach for your phone and scroll through a few things. But it’s the artificial light that may well be disrupting your sleep. Try and avoid screen time on a phone or tablet at least 1 hour before bed. Instead, try and find a different way to relax, like reading or listening to an audiobook.
This will help your mind to unwind and get you ready for a restful night’s sleep.
We may have been given a slight glimpse into the future of what life will look like after quarantine, but for many there’s still a sense of fear and uncertainty, which is only heightened when you suffer from sleep deprivation.
If you are struggling with sleep during these stressful times, try implementing these above steps into your daily habits. It may make all the difference, and with a regular sleeping pattern, life looks just that little bit rosier!