6 Tips for Better Sleep in Lockdown | The Column
Is it just me, or has lockdown caused a surge in sleepless nights? Our routines are out of whack, we’re worrying about money, people are missing loved ones, all whilst we're trying to fight a pandemic. No wonder no one can sleep!
I want to share 6 simple tips that may help you get back into a routine, or at least get a good night’s sleep. It’s very important to get your 8 hours right now, especially as it’s good for your immune system.
1. Wear an eyemask
I have found that wearing an eyemask at night helps me fall asleep quicker. It blocks out all the light (such as streetlights outside your window), telling your body it's night time. Plus, now it gets light at 5am and unless you're rocking black-out curtains, you're going to wake up.
For me, it also adds a bit of pressure to my face. Not everyone likes that, but I personally feel like it acts a bit like a weighted blanket, and I’m able to focus on the sensation of that, rather than my racing thoughts.
2. Don’t watch the clock
We’ve all been there – stressing about how much time we have to sleep, when suddenly your alarm goes off. Watching the clock keeps us up, because we’re stressed about not being able to sleep.
Try to remember that one night of bad sleep won’t kill you. Sure, you won’t be in the best mood, but it's not the end of the world if you have one bad night of sleep. Yes, it becomes a problem if you develop insomnia, but in most cases, one-off sleepless night won’t be detrimental to your overall health.
This leads me on to naps. Some people say you shouldn’t nap throughout the day, but I disagree. Sometimes a short nap can be exactly what you need to get you through.
Naps can disrupt your nightly routine, that’s absolutely true. But if you only have one nap throughout the day, and keep it short (roughly 20-30 minutes), it can be refreshing, especially if you are struggling to sleep at night.
4. Stretches before bed
A lot of us are less active at the moment, as we don’t have to leave our homes to work. This means that sleep is harder because our bodies may not be physically tired, even if our minds are.
Doing some light exercise before bed, such as yoga or simple stretches, can help your relieve muscle tension built up through the day and prevent potential cramps that will no doubt wake you up.
5. Mindful journaling
Are you lying there at 3am with racing thoughts? One good way to alleviate them is to journal. The act of writing your thoughts down can help, it can aid you to make sense of what you’re feeling. Doing it before sleep can help slow your racing mind, allowing you to drift off.
If all you’re feeling a lot of anxiety or despair at the moment, then mindful journaling could help. The idea of mindful journaling is to help you think of positive things that have happened throughout the day. Even if they are small wins, they are still significant. Try listing 5 things before going to bed that went well that day. The more you do it, the more it will become part of your routine and you may find yourself feeling more positive naturally.
6. No technology
If you are struggling to sleep, social media is a bad place to be at 3am. Try to avoid going on your phone when you can’t sleep. Reading the news, checking work emails, and hearing other people’s opinions in your most vulnerable state will just make you feel worse at night.
Also, the light coming from our devices blocks the conversion of serotonin into melatonin, and melatonin is essential for our sleep patterns. When you can’t sleep, try reading a book instead. It’s better than reading off a screen and you will be more likely to drop off.
There are plenty of other tips and tricks you can try to get to sleep. If you’re interested to find out more about sleep, check out the Sleep Foundation.
When I can’t sleep, I try to keep in mind that:
Eventually I will drift off. And if I don’t get any sleep that night, at least the next night I will be more tired and will hopefully drop off quickly.
A lack of routine is very disruptive to sleep; trying to set an alarm in the morning is one way to try and keep normality in check.
If one of the sleep tips don’t work, there are plenty of others to try out!
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