At krysallis, we’re working hard to ensure our clients and staff are as healthy and happy as possible during lockdown. One key aspect of wellbeing our therapists often focus on is sleep. The benefits of a good night’s rest are abundant, and as an organisation with a focus on mental health we’re dedicated to helping people improve things such as mood, concentration and focus, decision-making abilities, energy levels, and connection with others, all of which are enhanced by a good night’s rest.
However, in times of stress and uncertainty it can be difficult to make sure we’re getting the right amount; even if we do, how do we know we’re definitely getting good quality sleep? With the coronavirus lockdown disrupting home and working routines across the globe, it’s more important than ever to do what we can to stop excess tiredness and fatigue creeping up on us. Many of us are busy parents, key workers, furloughed staff members, overstretched employees, or just generally feeling the pressure of the changes Covid-19 is imposing upon us.
To help, we’ve compiled our five top tips to help improve your sleep during lockdown:
1. Stay in a routine
This means going to bed and getting up at the same times every day. Not always easy, but even if your actual sleep patterns vary, teaching your mind and body when your sleep/wake routine occurs will help your natural circadian rhythm. Try to avoid lunchtime nap temptations, as you won’t feel tired enough when you go to bed on an evening to fall into a deeper (and more beneficial) sleep. If you absolutely must have a daytime snooze, limit this to no more than 30 minutes. For more information on circadian rhythms, click here.
Staying in a routine in lockdown can be hard, especially if you’re not working and are running out of activities to keep you occupied during the day. Create a non-negotiable exercise plan that you do at the same time everyday or arrange a regular call with a friend that you must wake up for.
2. Go outside
Many people have noted feeling more groggy during lockdown, despite having more sleep than usual and moving less. Studies show that this can be down to the lack of exposure to the sun. Now that the rules are relaxed slightly, try to go outside at least once a day or arrange a socially-distanced picnic in the park with a friend.
3. Relax your mind and body
One of the challenges we’ve experienced so far in lockdown is the struggle to properly ‘switch’ off when going to bed. Sometimes your mind can be ready to drift off when your body just isn’t, or vice versa. To help prevent you from laying awake until the early hours, try some guided meditations or visualisations, jotting down your thoughts, reading and soft lighting to help stimulate the ‘sleep hormone’ melatonin. If your body still feels ‘keyed up’, some Progressive Muscle Relaxation or simple stretching and yoga will help your muscles to relax and release any tension.
4. Cut down on screen time
It’s a good idea to cut out or limit screen time before bed. As well as stimulating our brains when we need to be relaxing, the blue light emitted from devices interrupts melatonin production and delays our circadian rhythm. Although each individual is affected differently, putting down your phone, or using ‘blue blocker’ glasses or screen filters half an hour before bedtime, could significantly improve the length and quality of your sleep. Want to find out more about how much screen time can affect your sleep? Click here.
5. Create a tidy, restful space
The environment you sleep in is perhaps one of the most overlooked areas of sleep hygiene, but keeping to a routine here can make the world of difference. Stopping all activities in bed other than sleeping (and sex) helps your body to create an association between your bed and going to sleep. Spending just a minute or two making your bed on a morning, and generally making sure your bedroom is reasonably tidy and clean, helps to instil confidence that this is a comfortable area for you to really switch off in. For more ideas on creating a conducive sleep environment, see this helpful article.
If you still can’t sleep after 20 minutes, don’t stay in bed getting more agitated. Get up and do something relaxing like reading a book or listening to mellow music until you feel tired enough to go to sleep.
Getting a good night sleep is different for everyone, what works for some won’t work for others so try different things and find what suits you. Sleep is vital to our mental and physical health, so make this a priority and create a good routine now that you can carry on when the world resumes normality. If you’re really struggling with your sleep, there might be something you’re worried about that’s stopping you from sleeping and it could be good idea to speak to someone about it. At krysallis, our therapists are trained and ready to listen. If you feel you do need help improving your sleep, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We’re offering 50% discount on therapy sessions for key workers and their family members. Contact us here and quote KWFL to redeem the discount.