19 May Coronavirus: 5 Sleep Tips for Surviving Lockdown
Since mid-March, the UK has been in a state of lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. But, while the order to stay indoors for most of the day protects us from the virus, it’s impacting our health in other ways — for example, you might be struggling with back pain from poor posture and a lack of vitamin D from the sun. These problems are new for many people, and they’re having to make adjustments to manage them.
But, perhaps most concerningly, lockdown is having a major impact on the nation’s quality of sleep. This is particularly important at the moment, as sleep is directly linked to your immune system and your body’s ability to repair and fight infection. It also plays a vital role in maintaining good mental health, which is a pressing issue, too.
To help you improve your sleep at this difficult time, we’re going to share some top tips for getting a good level of sleep during lockdown.
Maintain a normal sleeping routine
One of the most important things you can do to sleep well during lockdown is to keep to your usual sleep routine as much as possible. Your body clock needs repetition to prepare you to feel awake and tired, so sticking to the same bedtime and wake up time is essential for preserving normality.
Even if you’re able to sleep in, whether that’s because you’re on furlough or don’t need to commute any more, try not to get into the habit of going to bed and waking later. Likewise, avoid taking extra-long naps over 90 minutes in the afternoon or evening, as this will impact your circadian rhythm.
Get a healthy amount of sunlight
Under lockdown conditions, we need to stay inside our homes for most of the day and avoid making non-essential trips. This also means that it’s more difficult to get healthy amounts of exposure to the sun — something that’s essential for the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns. With reduced levels of this chemical, our body finds it harder to drift off on time.
To maximise the amount of sun we get during the day, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the time we’re allowed each day to go out and exercise. Try to head out during daylight hours and don’t wear any sunglasses, as your body uses light hitting your eyes as a signal to produce melatonin. If possible, try to go outside at the same time each day to help build a routine for your body clock.
Should you be unable to go out into public spaces at this time, it’s recommended that you spend as much time as possible near a window or in the garden to get a daily dose of sun.
Find ways to destress before bed
Rather than having a lie in or napping, it’s a good idea to use the extra time around the house during lockdown to engage in activities that you love and that you know will help you to relax. Doing so will ensure you are nice and destressed before bed, giving you the best chance of drifting off to sleep without suffering from anxiety.
For instance, you could spend more time on your favourite hobby, or even try something new that will occupy time. Creative arts, such as writing, drawing, or knitting, are all great for relaxing, as are wellbeing focused activities like meditation, yoga, or even taking a bath.
Think about your surroundings
Because we’re stuck indoors for longer periods, including days spent working remotely for many, the surroundings of your home are likely to have a greater impact on your sleep.
For one, it’s important to have a workspace that is separate from your bedroom, if possible, which will ensure your mind doesn’t begin associating the space with work, rather than sleep. Should it be impossible to set up in another location, try to avoid sitting on your bed until you’re ready to relax in the evening. It may sound silly, but it can help to put distance between the two concepts.
You’ll also need to make sure that your bedroom is providing the perfect environment for rest. This means keeping it on the cooler side, between 16-18°C, and making the room as dark as possible. It’s also worth paying attention to the comfort of your bed itself, as it should allow you to sleep without any aches and pains in the morning. Consider investing in a new mattress if your old one is uncomfortable or, failing that, adding a mattress topper to give it some extra support.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol
Lastly, though you may have more free time in the evenings during lockdown, it’s worth limiting your intake of alcohol to low to moderate levels. We’ve discussed the substance’s effects on sleep before but, in a nutshell, if you drink too much before bed you risk disrupting your body clock, reducing the amount of restful deep sleep you can get, and being woken in the night needing the toilet. If you still wish to drink during lockdown, try to be mindful and consume less alcohol than you usually would.
Lockdown is a difficult time, with many thing to worry about, but it’s still worth protecting your sleep to make sure you’re fit and healthy (and not tired!). Follow these tips and you will be giving yourself the best chance of getting a restful night on a regular basis. You can stay up to date on all things sleep related on the Dormeo blog or in our advice centre.