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How to support your sleep during lockdown

Make these easy steps part of your daily routine for a restful night's sleep

How to support your sleep during lockdown

WORDS: Leila Spencer

Sleep is vital for our daily functioning. It works to clean the brain of ‘debris’ that has accumulated during the day and enables our circadian rhythm to regulate everything from hormones and body temperature, to stress. We have a lot to thank for a decent night’s sleep. However, living amidst a global pandemic has understandably caused disruption to our sleep patterns. The pandemic has caused heightened anxiety, stress and a change to our daily routines that could hinder our ability to get a solid eight hours. But the good news is, there are many things that can be tweaked to improve your sleep.

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is all about preparing your environment to enable optimal quality sleep. Start by keeping your room cool and dark. The ideal temperature for sleep is 16C, but simply ensuring your bedding is suited to keeping you cool may be enough to enhance the quality of your sleep. Investing in blackout blinds will also optimise your sleep, ensuring you don't wake up during the night.

Dimming the lights in the early evening will also prepare your body for rest. This includes avoiding blue light from screens, as blue light confuses our body into thinking it is daytime. Setting a blue light blocker on your phone and dimming the lights a few hours before bed can help you relax into a peaceful state.

Keep the screens out of the bedroom! Notifications, YouTube videos and news headlines all keep your brain active and stimulated – not a good combination for restful sleep. Avoid looking at the news before bed, switch off from emails and opt for an uplifting book instead of scrolling through Instagram.

Limit the caffeine

Who doesn’t love a cup of tea in the evening? But did you know that a cup of green tea contains just as much caffeine as half a mug of strong black coffee! Instead, try chamomile or Valerian tea, which both have relaxing properties that calm the nervous system. Also, if you are particularly sensitive to caffeine but can’t live without your daily latte, try to have it before lunch so that the caffeine has worn off by bedtime.

Exercise

Are lockdown and WFH getting in the way of your workout routine? You’re not alone. However, exercising during the day can really help improve your sleep. Your brain builds up sleep pressure throughout the day and if sleep pressure is high at bedtime, you are more likely to drop off and sleep deeply. Exercise is a great way of increasing sleep pressure to ensure your body is tired and ready for sleep.

Use your commute

Many of us who are working from home have forgone our usual commute to the office. But instead of using it to tick off more on your to-do list, use it to get into a calming state before and after work. Try meditation, going for a walk or sipping on a cup of herbal tea to either get you ready for the day or wind down after work to relax and separate the evening from your working day.

Leila Spencer has a degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Health Psychology. She also has a passion for writing, reading, travel and is a self-confessed foodie. For more holistic health and wellbeing tips, visit leilaspencer.co.uk