Helping You Sleep Better at Night During COVID-19
It’s been a tough year for worldwide civilisation and economy. If you’re struggling to sleep at night due to the stress and worry of the pandemic, all it takes is a change in the mindset.
In just over six months, COVID-19 has completely transformed the way the world and civilisation work. From furlough schemes to social distancing, we’ve all had to adapt to safety guidelines that have helped prevent the spread of coronavirus. It’s made us think - it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the stress the virus, furlough and lockdown has brought upon has had a significant impact on our sleeping routine.
According to the Sleep Council, it was found that amidst the pandemic, 70% of children under the age of 16 are going to bed later, with the majority becoming more heavily reliant on technology in the evening.
In fact, 76% of parents felt that COVID-19 is affecting their ability to maintain routines, enforce boundaries, and remain patient. After all, we are living in unique, unprecedented times, and it remains a worry with how children will transition back to a normal routine once schools reopen, and how adults will get back into their routine once returning to work.
With a total of 9.4million people in the UK placed on furlough since the virus outbreak, some of us can all admit we’ve low-key enjoyed those few extra minutes in bed during the lockdown period. But as the majority of people return back to the reality of our 9-5 jobs, we are also trying to get back into the routine of getting enough sleep in time for our alarm.
Not only this, but sleep overall is the foundation that your health is built on. Are you trying to regularly exercise? There’s a chance you are not pushing yourself to the maximum. Do you want to eat healthier? Sleeping badly makes people crave unhealthy comfort food. Suffering from bad mental health? Tired means less energy, meaning fewer endorphins produced and less productivity.
So, the question is: If you’re looking to train, eat, and be your best, how do you improve your sleeping routine? All it takes is a change of mindset…
First of all, consider your current sleeping state
Megan Spavins, founder of JustMegan blog, said: “Maintaining a healthy sleep routine is a fundamental step to recovering from your snoozing luxuries of lockdown. Everyone’s routine is different because every body, reaction and state is unique. Do you like to settle down an hour or two before sleeping or do you stay out late and hit the pillow as soon as you’re home? Do you like to go to sleep at the PM or AM? Maybe a little bit of both? Take some time to think about how consistent your current routine is, how it makes you feel, and whether there’s time for a change.”
If you’ve accepted you are unhappy with your current routine, welcome to the next step…
It’s called Acceptance. To prevent extra strain and stress during this revitalising process, it’s important that you ACCEPT that no-one can force sleep, and it’s not something you can magically turn on and off. “This tiny adjustment in mindset can help someone drastically improve their sleeping routine,”, said Megan, “You know those people who say when their “head hits the pillow they’re asleep”? that’s just a good mental state and pure luck, as we all follow the same natural sleep cycle.”
Next, think about the things you do before you go to sleep.
74% of parents reported that their children were worryingly using electronic devices signficantly more during the Coronavirus lockdown, including TV, game consoles, and phones, etc. But did you know that using your digital devices at nighttime can really impact your mental health and your sleeping routine? For example, checking your phone stimulates the brain so we are more active and awake. Mobile phones were designed to make users more productive and lives easier to communicate, experience and function.
The mind can stay active and engaged long after you’ve scrolled through Facebook, responded to a few emails, and answered that Snapchat you just received from your best mate. Megan added; “Getting in bed and falling asleep should be a comfortable and relaxing experience every night, especially after a long day. Giving your phone the attention it doesn’t need can negatively impact your sleep cycle, so consider decreasing your screen time in the evening.” This brings us back to the point that even a tiny adjustment in mindset can prevent you unhealthily staying up later at night than you should be.
Light is one of the most important external factors that can affect an individual’s sleeping duration. Directly, it can make it difficult to fall asleep. Indirectly, it influences the time of our body clock and affects our preferred time to sleep. This is generally why our body clock differs between Summer and Winter.
In scientific terms, light influences our sleeping routine through the specialised “light-sensitive” cells in the eye’s retinas. These cells also occupy the same space as the cells that make vision possible, so they have the ability to communicate to the brain whether it is daytime or nighttime. So, when we are exposed to light in the late evenings, it tends to delay tiredness and keeps us awake.
Comfortability is another well-known factor that can impact sleep. For people that love sleep, getting tucked into a warm, comfortable duvet with no responsibilities or distractions is considered one of the most comfortable positions there is. “It’s my favourite part of the day - not only is it the undeniable satisfaction of not having to move for the next 7-9 hours, but you are completely comfortable and safe in your own room.” Megan described.
If this isn’t the case, then we have found another obstacle. Investing in a new duvet, pillow, mattress or sheets, any of those fresh, new items have been improbably proven to improve the excitement to sleep at night. How someone feels about the style and overall appearance of the room they sleep in can also have an impact on one’s comfortability, so maybe it’s time for a little change?
Comfortability is a significant component for mental health. Suffering from conditions like anxiety, depression, and ADHD, feeling uncomfortable can create a huge panic button for them to smack on. Falling asleep comfortably will motivate your body to continue this cycle.
The change in mindset you need.
The overall aim here is to adapt one’s mindset to help them get back into the sleeping routine they were undoubtedly in before the national lockdown. There is an overall mental goal that you need to achieve here to achieve a better sleeping routine. “Rather than lying in bed thinking about how you need sleep in order to function tomorrow, follow the steps above and calmly think about the good things that have happened today.”