Lockdown has affected our behavior in a whole range of ways, some of which might have profound and unseen effects on our health overall. For some of us, the change might have been positive; for others, it might have been negative.
Sleep is arguably the most overlooked thing you can do to improve your overall health. Much like exercise, it reduces your risk of suffering from a whole range of disorders, while aiding focus and improving your ability to do just about everything.
But how might lockdown have affected your sleeping pattern, and what might you do to get it back on track finally?
If you’re worried about the state of the world, and the broader economy in the UK, then you’re likely to be robbed of at least a few minutes of sleep. The anxiety might be crippling; we might lie awake for hours, wondering what happened with the infection rate the following morning. Naturally, chronic stress isn’t good for our sleep. What’s more, the effect may be self-reinforcing: the more we worry, the less we sleep; the less we sleep, the more we worry.
Anxiety is a problem with a whole range of solutions, and what works for you will depend on your personality. Mindfulness meditation can help in the long run, as can journalizing. Write down the things that you’re worried about every day. When you come to reflect on them a few weeks later, you may recognize a tendency to exaggerate and catastrophize, which you can then deal with to get the sleep you need.
If you aren’t comfortable while you’re in bed, then it follows that you might have difficulty sleeping. Comfort might involve the ground itself, but it might also apply to the clothes you wear when you’re in bed. A new set of men’s pajamas or ladies’ nightwear make a worthwhile investment if it allows you to sleep more soundly.
Without a daily routine to abide by, it might have been challenging to know exactly when to fall asleep. If you regularly dropped the kids off at eight, started work at nine, hit the gym at six, and got home at seven, then getting to sleep might not have been so difficult. But if you don’t have any obligations, then the temptation to sleep in and stay up late might have been irresistible.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way around this. Go to bed and wake up at a fixed time every single day, including weekends. Once you’ve gotten over the adjustment period, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of getting to sleep.
Most of us have spent the lockdown staring into our phones and computers. But, during the hours before bed, this probably isn’t a great idea. Modern LED screens emit light on a blue wavelength that sends the message to your brain that it’s time to wake up. Though the precise impact of blue light is contested, everyone agrees that bright lights of any kind will suppress the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for putting you to sleep. Schedule at least an hour of unwinding time before you hit the sack, and never scroll through your social media in bed.