Mental Health Awareness Week may be drawing to a close, but with lockdown in full swing, taking care of your mind as well as your body and soul has never been so important. The anxiety that surrounds the Covid-19 pandemic is after all affecting us in many ways.
By day, confinement and complete solitude can leave the brain on constant alert. With more time to spare, mental overload and exhaustion has become the new normal for many. Concentration, focus and memory have also been affected by the isolation we’ve all found ourselves in due to the Covid-19 outbreak. By night however, the lockdown is still impacting the way we think and feel.
Disrupted sleep patterns have become part and parcel of lockdown life. This isn’t just leaving people mentally and physically drained, it’s leaving us more vulnerable to illness. Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to maintaining the health and wellbeing that is integral to boosting immunity. During sleep, your body gets the rest it needs to produce the antibodies that fight infection. Sleep also ensures you awaken with the energy and enthusiasm to lead a healthier lifestyle that will in turn heighten immunity.
Here we detail how you can improve sleep quality and quantity, even while facing Covid-19 fear and uncertainty.
1. Keep your body clock happy
Life as we know it has been turned on its head since lockdown commenced in March. But maintaining some kind of routine is beneficial, even if it is a far cry from your pre-lockdown schedule. Even a basic routine where you wake up and go to bed at similar times each day can make all the difference to keeping your body clock in check.
Your body clock thrives on consistency and this will help you achieve a good quality sleep, whatever challenges your new normal throws at you. I’ve kept moving and stayed motivated during lockdown by basing my routine on these 10 daily habits, and you can too!
2. Personalise your bedtime routine
There’s so much advice online about how to set and stick to a bedtime routine. But when it comes to inducing quality sleep, one size certainly doesn’t fit all. Take the time to create a personalised bedtime routine that works for you, and you alone.
Pinpoint what helps you to relieve stress and manage anxiety, and base your new bedtime ritual on these practices. Enjoying a relaxing bath, reading a book or listening to calming music are tried and tested ways to prepare your body and mind for a great night’s sleep. Indulging your skin with a natural treatment or relaxing gua sha facial, practicing meditation or preparing a special bedtime drink are other options for unwinding before bed. Whatever your chosen methods of relaxation, keep it personal to you and preferably technology free. The blue light emitted by smartphones and other devices can be particularly damaging to sleep quality and quantity.
3. Create your very own sleep haven
Your bedroom should be an oasis of calm and a haven for sleep. If it isn’t, then doing something about it could help you fix your sleep schedule in no time at all. Keep your bedroom tidy, organised and clutter-free. A chaotic bedroom will only encourage stress and anxiety. Keep light and noise to a minimum in your bedroom to continue that peaceful, sleep promoting vibe.
4. Let the outside in
Cracking the window open and letting that fresh air in has its benefits too as sleep therapist Dr Kat Lederle explains:
“Research has shown that people who are sleeping in a well-ventilated room report feeling less sleepy and better able to concentrate the next day. What’s also been observed is that having a window facing onto green space or water can also support a healthy sleep… It’s important to have good air circulation, so open a window if you can. However, there is also noise pollution to consider. Something I do is keep the bedroom door open instead of the window because of the street noise. And where privacy is a problem, a fan or an air diffuser can help.”
5. Look after you
Now is the perfect time to rethink your entire approach to how you look after your health and wellbeing. Dedicate your new at-home routine to looking after you. Enjoying regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy diet have all been linked to better sleep. It also helps to support your lymphatic system which will work wonders for immunity at this crucial time.
Getting outside as much as you can also has its benefits when you retire to bed. Exposing yourself to natural light (preferably in the morning) and dark balances your body’s circadian rhythm to ensure you’re tired and ready for bed when the time comes. In addition to this, it promotes the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake patterns.