On average, we spend a third of our lives asleep (or at least, some of us would like to!) It is vital for every human to sleep in order to survive. Even before this pandemic, in the UK alone as many as 16 million adults are suffering from sleepless nights and at least a third say they suffer from Insomnia. There are many common causes that either stop us from falling asleep or having a restless night.
In these unusual circumstances that we find ourselves in, it is only natural that we will all be suffering stress in one form or another, whether its related to work, money, children, our health, or the need to keep ourselves and our families safe.
Fortis are fully aware of the impact the Coronavirus is having in relation to people’s mental health and how this is directly affecting sleep patterns in adults and children. Our daily routines have been turned upside down, we are being asked to work from home or not at all, or become teachers overnight. We are having to find new ways in which to manage our lives, having previously taken many things for granted.
Like with many things, lack of sleep can create a vicious circle.
When we are stressed we may over eat, lack motivation and feel agitated, losing our temper more than usual. We struggle to concentrate, which affects our self-confidence and self-awareness, and we find it difficult to make what would normally be easy decisions.
Because we are unable to do many of the things we would normally do to relax, like going to the gym, spending time with family or just going out to meet friends, we are having to adapt and find other ways. This is a good opportunity to practise some self-care, perhaps read that book that’s been gathering dust, get the colouring pencils out and create, or treat yourself and bake something indulgent you haven’t tried before.
Here are some tips to help with your sleep self care.
It is important to take some time during the day to go for a walk, a bike ride or do an exercise routine at home whilst you can’t access the gym. Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration. Exercise may also encourage sleep in other ways because it reduces stress and tires you out. Early morning and afternoon exercise may also help reset the sleep-wake cycle by raising body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later. It can be especially helpful if you are able to exercise outdoors and let your body absorb natural sunlight during the daytime hours.
Keep a routine
It is important to continue with the sleep and wake schedule that you had before. Continue getting up and going to bed at the same time, regardless of whether you have work or school to get up for. Still have plans for the following day, humans like routine.
This needs to be somewhere tranquil and used just for sleep. Make sure the temperature is cool and that it is dark and quiet. Perhaps use a sleep mask or lavender on your pillow. Ensure you bed is comfortable, use sumptuous bedding that feels lovely to touch.
Process your thoughts
Off load the things that might keep you awake, and even write them down or talk to someone during the day. Some people write a to do list so they have a plan for the following day, this will help you to manage your time, giving you a sense of control and help reduce stress. When we are under stress, we can’t rationalise our thought process in the same way, often waking in the night. These thoughts can escalate, so have a pen and piece of paper next to the bed if necessary.
Avoid Electronic devices
Blue light devices can stimulate our brains if we are using them just before bed. Try to switch these off and avoid checking social media, particularly the news at this time as it can heighten our anxieties.
Choose something like a chamomile or peppermint tea, known for their relaxing properties, or a warm milk. There is nothing better than a smooth hot chocolate!
Before bed, as part of your routine, read that book you’ve been putting off or run a lovely warm bath with your favourite bubbles. Perhaps you can watch a film – do the things you enjoy.
Remember don’t feel guilty, if we look after ourselves it helps us look at others.