Sleep tips to help us as we exit lockdown

COVID-19 has given us plenty of reasons to lose sleep over the last year and now as we get back into the real world, the world seems more hectic than ever.

In some ways, many people I know, have told me how much they will miss that lockdown time, when there was a clear diary and nowhere to go.

The stress of now having to navigate a busy schedule, the city traffic, work, it can all feel too much and more people than ever are fighting a serious loss of sleep even though we potentially are through the worst of Covid thanks to the vaccine.

Lack of sleep during this pandemic has been named  “Coronasomnia.” And it is a very real and very widespread.

“It’s a problem everywhere, across all age groups,” said Angela Drake, a UC Davis Health clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She has treated sleep disorders and is trained in managing insomnia without medications.

“Insomnia was a problem before COVID-19,” she said. “Now,from what we know anecdotally, the increase is enormous.”

Most of the information sleep experts have on Coronasomnia is anecdotal, but there is plenty of it. And a report from the National Institutes of Health highlighted a study early in the pandemic that “revealed very high rates of clinically significant insomnia” along with more acute stress, anxiety and depression.

Even before COVID-19, medical experts were concerned about increasing rates of insomnia and its impact on physical and emotional health. Now, thanks to the extra stress of the pandemic, and those unheard of changes in routine that we went through, it is so hard to just pick up where we left off and the daily routine has been altered beyond repair.

So what can we do to get to sleep NOW :

  • Keep to your normal daily routine:“If you’re working from home, keep the same schedule as if you were going to work and  “Don’t sleep in or stay up late. When that alarm rings, as painful as is, get up.”

    And give yourself a break during the day, just as you would in the office. Take a lunch break or go for a walk or just get outside. 
  • Create and keep a going-to-bed routine: This is crucial and begins with a warm shower/ bath “Slow down at the end of your day,” “Begin turning down the lights about a half hour before bed. Bright lights will keep your brain from producing natural melatonin (a hormone that is part of our natural sleep cycle and helps us sleep). Reading a paperback book for ten minutes will help the mind switch off and is key to those first moments of closed eyes
  • Avoid screens in the bedroom:The blue light from cellphones, tablets and computers signals our bodies to stay awake and not release melatonin. I know this, but hide the  electronics -  it’s so much better to read a book as you don’t want that light from a screen right in your face.
  • Don’t use your bedroom, and especially your bed, as your office: Keep the bedroom for sleep if you can and make sure it is tidy and well ventilated, particularly in the hot weather
  • Get some exercise during the day:It reduces stress and keeps our bodies in their normal rhythms, timing wise I prefer the morning to exercise and if it has to be evening, It’s best to exercise a few hours before bedtime to give your body time to cool down and slow down.
  • Don’t take naps:A short power nap won’t hurt, particularly if you are still struggling with exhaustion post Covid, but make sure it’s not too late in the day, and sleeping for too long in the day will throw off your sleep cycle.
  • Get some sunlight:It helps keep our circadian rhythms in pattern so we produce melatonin at night, not during the day.
  • Don’t eat dinner late: If you’re going to bed at 11 p.m., try not to eat after 7 pm or so. It is important to give your body time to digest it. When you go to sleep, your body wants to shut down all the metabolic work, including digestion.”
  • If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep try meditation, - the worst thing is to get out of bed.
  • Cut back on news and social media, especially in the evening: It will just keep the mind active and far better to de stress and look at something uplifting!
  • Go easy on the alcohol and caffeine:They both throw off your sleep patterns. Alcohol can help you fall asleep, but not necessarily stay asleep or sleep well. Remembering that not all sleep is equal and we do want the right sleep.
  • Be careful with sleep medication:Over-the-counter medication can give you fitful sleep or leave you drowsy in the morning, and prescription drugs can create an emotional dependence.
  • Try learning to meditate with one of the many apps available:I’m a big believer in meditation as it can improve sleep and it emphasises the importance of our mind-body connection. It does take a little practice, but it lowers our stress hormones. Even a ten minute meditation every night for a week will help re train the mind to de stress

Finally, building your personal bedtime routine is also about wearing something to bed that makes you feel super relaxed and familiar and that clothing or lack of clothing can really make a difference to a good night’s sleep and and is often a factor overlooked by sleep experts.

At Homebody, we have been making our bespoke  sleepwear  to be that perfect weight, feel and fit for many years and we know that we can help as we ease out of lockdown and face a fresh new and more regular lifestyle.