When our daily lives change, generally our sleeping habits are affected. And many of us at the moment have experienced a massive change in our daily lives. Some of us may be sleeping more, some may be sleeping less. Here are 5 tips to sleep better during lockdown and get your sleeping pattern back on track.
What causes our sleeping patterns to change?
First of all, let's establish exactly what makes our sleeping patterns change. We all have an internal body clock that determines what time we wake up and what time we get tired, this is called our Circadian Rhythm. There are many things that can interrupt our circadian rhythm including, our working hours, jet-lag, and outside lightness and darkness. When we experience sudden changes to our daily schedules, it can cause the circadian rhythm to change too, resulting in us getting more or less sleep. Exposure to natural light and keeping to regular mealtimes are two of the main things that keep our circadian rhythm in check. But for the majority of us, lockdown has changed the amount of time we are exposed to natural light and likely adjusted the times we would usually eat. Let's move on to how we can readjust the circadian rhythm and sleep better during lockdown.
The Solutions: how to sleep better in lockdown
1. Establish a new routine
If your daily activities have changed, try and find a new routine to set yourself. Start by focusing on your sleep cycle. If you feel tired at 9 pm rather than your usual bedtime of 11 pm, try going to bed when you feel tired instead. It will help you establish a new sleep cycle that suits you best. If you find yourself going to bed later and waking up later than you usually would and you'd like to change that. Force yourself to wake up earlier for a few mornings, within a few days your sleep schedule will be back on track.
2. Establish a work space
If you are working from home, it's important to set up a dedicated workspace. This doesn't necessarily mean a separate room. If you have access to a separate room for a temporary office set up - perfect! If not, there are ways to establish a difference between workspace and relaxing space. Start by keeping to your dedicated working hours, this helps create a mental boundary of when you should work and relax. Once you're finished working, make sure to fully shut everything down or pack it away. Taking these steps will help you to fully relax for the night and get better sleep.
3. Avoid napping
As tempting as napping on your lunch break might seem, it could throw out your circadian rhythm if you don't actually need a nap. Short naps of 20 minutes or less can be a great way to restore energy levels and improve cognitive function if you're feeling especially tired.
4. Keep up with your usual exercise routine
Moving more is proven to help us sleep better. While it may be difficult in the current situation to exercise as you usually would, try and move as much as you can. Whether it's home workouts, going for a walk, or simply walking up and down the stairs. If you're working from home, try and get up every hour and walk around for a few minutes. Keeping active will help you feel tired at night, sleep better, and wake up feeling more rested.
5. Keep the curtains open
Since we're all going outside less, a good way to keep our circadian rhythm in check is to let the natural light in. Our bodies subconsciously note the hours it is light and dark which sets outlines for our sleeping habits. Make sure to open up your curtains when you wake up and leave them open for a little while after it gets dark. This will help to keep your internal body clock ticking over as normal.