For your average commuter with a well-established routine, this new lifestyle of working at home has the potential to drastically impact sleep patterns. It’s easier than ever to slip into bad screen-time habits, such as Netflix binge-watching or spending more time on social media before bed. Not only this, but with the shift in lifestyle comes a change in eating tendencies. Later or larger meals with possibly more booze or caffeine affects quality of sleep. This is why it feels strangely difficult to get up in the morning… even though we’re rising later than normal. Here are some tips to improving sleep during lockdown.
Why sleep is so important
Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain as it affects the appetite. Getting the recommended amount of sleep can improve your immune system – many studies show a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes. A well-functioning immune system is essential to fight off disease.
Boosting the brain
From a productivity perspective good sleep boosts the brain, enhancing memory and problem-solving skills. Poor sleep is strongly linked to depression and may also reduce social skills.
If you’re unsure whether your sleep patterns are good or bad, sleep trackers enable you to build better bedtime habits.
Tips to improve sleep
If you’re lucky enough not to have the pressure of a 9-5 work schedule, use this time to modify your sleeping patterns. Go to bed when you feel tired and sleep for as long as you can. Find your own routine, as long as it’s a routine. It’s very important to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, because regularly changing sleeping habits can affect both mental and physical health.
A relaxing environment
Your bedroom needs to be a place where you feel peaceful. There’s a chance that your bedroom has to double up as an office at the moment. If this is the case, it’s important to physically and mentally separate your work environment from where you are relaxing and sleeping.
Your bedroom needs to be a room in which you love spending time, so use these weekends to stay at home and redecorate your bedroom. Candles and house plants are also relaxing and the perfect addition to keep you feeling calm. If your bedroom feels like a place of rest, this will help you to settle down in the evening before bed.
You mustn’t underestimate the importance of light as it signals to our brain whether we should be awake or asleep. When you wake up, make sure to fling open the curtains straight away – but in the evening try to avoid excess light as you risk sending mixed signals to your brain. Switch off all devices at least an hour before bed.
The temperature of your bedroom is also important. Between 16-18ºC is the ideal and try to let in fresh air through the day.
Control your controllables
It’s perfectly natural to feel anxious during these times, especially when faced with regular distressing news, so try to avoid it just before bedtime. Mindfulness techniques are really helpful; if you feel your mind racing before bed, focus on your breathing.
MyMindPalTM have released free exercises to help manage stress levels during these times: https://mymindpal.com/blog/free-exercises-to-help-you-stay-mentally-fit/
Diet and exercise are equally relevant to your quality of sleep.
Don’t be afraid to take a power nap after lunch. Also, try not to eat dinner too late as your body will still be burning off the calories and producing heat, making it harder to get to sleep. The same problem occurs with alcohol which is highly calorific and can interfere with sleep; it goes without saying that caffeine before bed is a no-no.
Exercise is as important for our wellbeing as it is for our sleep. As easy as it is in these circumstances to sit down all day, it’s essential to get up and get moving every hour.