Struggling to sleep during lockdown? Experts reveals why lounging on the couch and taking naps is making it harder to get a good night’s rest – and suggest looking at ‘soothing images’ to help you drift off
- Hashtag #cantsleep trending on Twitter this morning as Brits struggle to relax
- Weekend combined slight jetlag of clock change coupled with coronavirus news
- Death toll from pandemic in UK is increasing while lockdown could last longer
- Sleep experts James Wilson and Dr Sophie Bostock share tips for sleeping better
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
With a lockdown imposed on the UK to help fight Covid-19 and many of us confined to our homes for the majority of every day, it’s bound to have an impact on our physical and mental health.
This morning dozens of people took to Twitter claiming they’d had a bad night’s kip, with the hashtag #cantsleep trending on the platform.
According to expert James Wilson, aka The Sleep Geek, of Sheffield, this weekend was a ‘double whammy’ for affecting slumber, with the slight jetlag effect of the clocks going forward coupled with increasing anxiety caused by the worsening coronavirus crisis.
Here he and Dr Sophie Bostock, Bensons for Beds’ sleep expert, offer some advice on how to enjoy a more restful, fulfilling night’s shut-eye.
This morning dozens of people took to Twitter claiming they’d had a bad night’s kip, with the hashtag #cantsleep trending on the platform. Pictured: stock image
ESTABLISH A NEW ROUTINE
We are told we need to stick to our routine, but many of us are probably trying to maintain the one we used to follow during a normal working week.
James suggests: ‘Think about a new routine that takes into account your sleep type (owl, lark or neutral), as well as your kids’ learning schedule (if you have them), your work patterns, and when you perform best in the day.
‘This might mean your new routine has you going to bed earlier and getting up earlier, or more likely, getting up later and going to bed later.’
TRY TO GET IN SOME OUTDOOR EXERCISE
With gyms closed and Brits limited to one form of exercise per day, you may not be getting the usual exercise you do and have given into lounging on the couch.
‘Try and take as much exercise as you can, and get lots of light exposure, particularly earlier in the day,’ James advises.
Dr Sophie adds: ‘The best environments have plenty of daylight – sunlight is a natural mood booster and exposure to natural light during the day, especially in the morning, also helps to fully wake up your body clock, so that by night time, your body is ready for sleep.’
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
James recommends putting your phone away an hour before you go to bed – or even switching it off for an entire day.
‘Many people use social media as a tool to find reassurance in their community, thinking this assurance will relax them, when actually it could make them even more anxious and unable to relax,’ he says.
While naps can help to alleviate the boredom during the day if you’re currently not working, they’re not always a great idea.
‘Naps can be a great energy boost, but they do reduce our sleep urge at night,’ James points out.
‘They can be quite damaging to us sticking to a sleep routine at night.’
USE BREATHING TECHNIQUES TO DE-STRESS
Sleep is needed to maintain your emotional balance, and you can lose this balance when the emotional part of your brain becomes hyperactive – with stress levels increasing and mole hills suddenly becoming mountains.
Dr Sophie says: ‘The key is to dial down your amygdala response and reduce the physiological self-defence stress response.
‘In the short term, one of the main effects is an increase in anxiety – which makes sense if you’re under threat. All our emotions can be exaggerated, but we most consistently see an increase in negative emotions and a decrease in positive emotions. We have less energy, and less motivation.
‘Take a few moments in the day to stop and concentrate on breathing slowly – this will help you not get distracted by thoughts and feelings.
Try doing it right before going to sleep, too.’
LOOK AT SOOTHING IMAGES
‘Imagery can be used as a way to distract you and get your mind into a state of relaxation and security,’ James claims.
‘Try spending five minutes looking at images you find soothing to assist your sleep.’
This could include photo albums of previous holidays or magazines if you’re trying to dial down your screen use, especially before bed.
DON’T WATCH THE NEWS BEFORE BED
James suggests keeping the couple of hours before bed coronavirus-free to help lessen any anxiety you may feel about the pandemic.
‘Don’t watch the news or discuss it with family,’ he advises.
‘Watch, read or listen to something funny, repetitive or trashy to allow your brain to wander.
‘If you can’t get to sleep or wake up in the night and don’t drop back off within 30 minutes, get up and start again, preferably by listening to something.’
DON’T WORK FROM YOUR BED
According to Dr Sophie, for a restful night’s sleep, you want your brain to associate your bed with sleep and intimacy, and nothing else.
‘If you start to merge the boundaries between work and rest, one will intrude into the other,’ she warns.
‘When it comes to switching off the light at night, if you’ve been in your bed all day, thoughts about work are more likely to persist.’
By the same coin, working from your bed means it’s also likely you’ll be less productive and more likely to nod off during the day.
For more information on James Wilson aka The Sleep Geek please visit www.thesleepgeek.co.uk
Source: Read Full Article