The coronavirus outbreak has wreaked havoc across the globe, forcing millions of people to self-isolate at home, change their way of life, and give up hope on ever getting a good night’s sleep again.
While this change of routine may have caused many of us to become increasingly frustrated, it’s incredibly important to look after your personal health, ensuring you get through the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed. After all, self-isolating at home can have potentially detrimental effects on your mental health, so it’s vital to keep on top of how you’re feeling and keep your brain and body engaged.
One of the biggest contributors to mental health conditions like depression or anxiety is a poor sleep routine. With this in mind, here are some top tips on how to ensure you get a good night’s sleep during your time in lockdown.
Avoid The Bedroom.
When it’s time for you to head to bed, it’s important for your bedroom to have an atmosphere that’s cool, dark and quiet. In other words, you need to feel relaxed as soon as you step into it, ready for a good night’s sleep.
To do this effectively, black-out blinds, oil diffusers and smart lamps can all make a big difference. However, it’s perhaps more important to associate your bedroom as the place you go to sleep, rather than where you work in or watch TV. By making this psychological connection, this should help you feel more relaxed and prepared for a good night’s sleep.
If you have no choice but to use your phone while in bed, make sure you set it in night mode. This will help prevent your brain from interpreting the screen’s light as daylight and limiting your body’s melatonin level – a hormone known to aid sleep.
Set A New Routine.
If you are currently working from home or have been recently furloughed from work, chances are your daily routine will be a lot different from how it was a few weeks ago.
While you may find yourself enjoying the freedom to lie in for longer in the mornings, it’s important to think about the effect this is actually having on your routine and ability to get to sleep in the evening.
By considering your daily routine – for example, how much physical or mental exercise you’re doing – you should be able to set yourself a routine that works for your current circumstances.
Start by focusing on your sleep-wake cycle. If you start feeling tired, rather than staying up late watching YouTube videos, go to bed. And, if you have the luxury, don’t set an alarm – allow your body clock to redress itself and let you sleep for as long as your body needs you to.
While everyone is different, you should aim for a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night and a maximum of nine. If you find yourself sleeping more or less than this, then you’ll need to alter your routine.
Don’t Use Devices.
While on the subject of setting yourself a new routine, knowing how to do so properly is imperative.
If you don’t know already, using devices or watching screens can significantly affect the quality of your sleep since the bright lights trick your brain into thinking its daylight outside. Therefore, when you head to bed, put your phone on charge, turn the TV off and – if you’re not feeling sleepy yet – either meditate or read.
By implementing effective techniques like these, you will not only ease your anxiety, but you’ll also help your circadian rhythm take control of your body, releasing hormones that promote a good night’s rest.
Taking naps on a regular basis can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythm, making it more difficult to nod off later on in the evening. Therefore, when you come to establishing your new routine, try to avoid napping where you can.
However, that’s not to say naps are necessarily bad for you. In fact, short naps – under 20 minutes or so – have actually been shown to help restore cognitive function and make you feel less sleepy.
As with anything though, it’s about finding the right balance. While naps should generally be avoided if possible, if you’ve had a particularly bad night’s sleep, a 20-minute nap during the day could help you feel a lot better.
The coronavirus outbreak has brought with it a time of uncertainty and worry. However, until the pandemic passes, the most important thing you can do is focus on your own health and wellbeing.
By taking the right steps to ensure you get a good night’s rest, you will not only keep your own feelings of stress and worry at bay but you’ll also be able to use your time in lockdown productively.