Sleep: How Has It Been Affected During Lockdown

Like most of us, I have been spending a lot more time at home and my usual routine has been turned upside down. I am no longer making the daily trip on my bike into the office, no more coffee runs and no more meeting friends at the weekends. Face-to-face meetings in work have been replaced by zoom calls and hours of my day are spent in front of my laptop or my phone scrolling through apps like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

At the beginning of lockdown, I noticed that my sleep schedule had taken a turn for the worst and unfortunately, a lack of sleep can often add to stress and anxiety. We all know that we don’t need anymore of that right now, so I came to the conclusion that it’s very important to try and maintain a proper sleep schedule for your overall health and to improve your mood.

Luckily for you, I recently discovered lots of achievable ways to maintain a proper sleep cycle. Hopefully this guide will help you out in some way.

I learned, from conducting some of my own research into the topic, that everyone has an internal clock that mirrors nature’s cycles of day and night. It’s in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and this regulates our body’s functions – like sleep, energy and hunger. Yes, I know that’s heavy reading on the head, but stick with me and I’ll explain.

Adults need anywhere between 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, while teenagers need between 8 to 10 hours. Sleep has many benefits: including helping your immune system, it helps us to interact more with others, keeps us motivated and it can also help with weight loss.

So what are my top tips for a better night’s sleep?

Well, try to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning. Don’t use any electronic devices an hour before you go to sleep. Yes, this means leaving down your beloved phone. I know this is difficult during these times, but it will help. Social media can often be linked to stress and anxiety – which can contribute to sleep problems. Scrolling through apps may lead to falling asleep later, and ultimately waking up later. It may also cause you to wake up during the night, with difficulty getting back to sleep. Read a book or a magazine instead. Why not check out my other blog which suggests some great books to read during this time.

Heavy meals before bedtime? That’s a big no. Don’t eat them at least two hours before you hit the hay and reduce your caffeine or alcohol intake. While coffee might keep you awake, it doesn’t keep you alert and doesn’t help sleep deprivation.

When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, try not to press snooze! Take a couple of minutes to properly wake up, and then get up. Many of us own Fitbits and the silent alarm clock option is a gentle way of waking you up in the morning. It’s a great alternative if you have small children, or just don’t find loud noise of your basic alarm effective. 

Changing into different clothing when you get up makes a huge difference. I know this might be hard if you’ve invested in some cosy new pjs! Have your cup of tea/coffee outside if possible, to wake yourself up and get some fresh air.

Do some stretching – simple stretches that will help your body wake up. Yoga is a great option for those who want to get some light exercise in to their daily routine, as well as improving your overall mood. It can also be done before bedtime, to relax your body.

Light has a huge affect on our bodies and hormones. It influences our internal clock through the retina in our eyes. When evening comes on us, our bodies automatically release the hormone melatonin and our body temperature decreases. This means that we become less alert or aware and feel tired. The opposite happens when the morning sun hits – our melatonin is low and our body temperature increases. We have more energy to start our day.

As well as controlling the light in your bedroom, the background noise and temperature should also be controlled so you can have the best night’s sleep. The temperature depends on the type of person of you are, so you will need to find what’s best for you.

These are just some simple tips and tricks that I found useful when trying to get my sleeping pattern back on track. They worked for me, so why not give them a go!

Published by Anna Cullen

Substantial experience in radio, digital and print journalism.

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