Sleep lowdown on lockdown
As Britain gets to grips with an unprecedented lockdown, family wellness has never been more important.
Healthy food, regular exercise and a great night’s sleep can all help keep us fighting fit. But for those struggling to get the sleep they need during the Corona virus fallout, The Sleep Council has some sound advice.
Said lead advisor Lisa Artis: ‘This is an incredibly worrying time for many. Whether it’s being asked to work from home, having to take unpaid leave, closing a business for the duration of the crisis – and possibly home schooling children at the same time, it’s an extremely stressful time.
“A good night’s rest has a significant impact on our mood and mental wellbeing, so it’s really important to be sleeping well. While that won’t stop the virus, our immune systems become suppressed when we are sleep deprived. And we all need to feel at the top of our game to deal with all the added pressures of isolation, being housebound and worrying about family and finances.”
This is Lisa’s sleep
lowdown on the lockdown:
Take the one ‘permitted’ form of exercise you can do every day and go for a walk/run/cycle etc. If you are completely in isolation, home exercise – workout videos on YouTube, gardening and even housework – can really help your ability to sleep.
Not surprisingly, we’re all feeling anxious! This causes thoughts to race through your mind, muscles to tense and the heart to beat faster, all of which make it more difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up too early. Yoga, deep breathing, a walk outside or talking on the phone/video-calling friends and family can all help. Or try distracting yourself by reading, watching a good movie or even – if you have time on your hands – taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill.
KEEP A ROUTINE
If you are working from home, try not to use the bedroom as your office as it blurs the boundaries between work and rest. Keep a normal routine, getting up at the same time, having regular lunch breaks and so on, particularly if you have children at home during the school shutdown.
GET AS MUCH NATURAL LIGHT AS POSSIBLE
Working from home, social distancing or even self-isolating may mean you’re struggling to enjoy being out in the natural light – which can negatively affect your mental and physical wellbeing. Try to go out for a daily walk, spend some time in the garden and open windows for fresh air. If you’re working from home, try to position your work area near to a window. Natural light – even on a cloudy day – helps reset our internal body clock and make us more alert.
AVOID A NIGHTTIME TIPPLE
Tempted to take an evening tipple? While it may initially help you fall asleep more quickly, you don’t get the same quality of sleep after drinking alcohol and may feel unrefreshed the next day.
KEEP THE BEDROOM A SANCTUARY
The bedroom environment plays an important part in achieving a good night’s sleep. Make sure you sleep on a comfortable, supportive bed and keep the room cool, quiet and dark. Keep computers and clutter out of the bedroom – this is a room where you should feel calm and clear headed.
STAY AWAY FROM DEVICES
It’s well known that we should stop using electronics an hour before bedtime because of the blue light emitted. However, it’s also important not to use them in bed as this activity can keep us awake and alert. Given the current crisis, watching the news or social media feeds can prove quite distressing, so avoid doing so in the run up to bedtime.
Before you fall asleep, practice relaxation techniques and deep breathing exercises. Some people may prefer to use guided meditation, mindfulness or white noise to feel calm, while others would rather read or listen to soothing music. Do what makes you feel good.
Said Lisa: “Finally, don’t struggle to cope in these uncertain times. We may have a difficult few months ahead but Mind and the Mental Health Foundation have some fantastic advice and resources which are readily available.”