Having trouble sleeping? You are not alone. More and more people are reporting poor quality sleep during the pandemic. Coronavirus is having an indirect impact on our health, and messing about with our sleep patterns. And that isn’t surprising. Our brain is being bombarded with the kind of news, imagery, and stimulus often associated with war, and this is creating a constant low-level stress/trauma.
Sleep is the time when our brain processes the day’s activities, helping us make sense of what we have seen and heard. So, if you have strange dreams, that’s why. Not only are our waking thoughts being dominated at a conscious and unconscious level by Coronavirus, but our daily routine has changed beyond recognition.
Given the tumultuous impact the Coronavirus has had every section of our global community, we can’t be shocked if our subconscious is having a bit of a reaction. Here are my top five tips for getting a good night’s sleep during Covid-19.
Watch What You Drink
Alcohol and caffeine are the two horses of the apocalypse when it comes to problematic sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant and keeps your brain active, while alcohol will turn off certain brain receptors responsible for getting you into deep NREM sleep. If you have a coffee at any point after midday, it will impact your ability to sleep.
While alcohol will impact your sleep no matter when you drink it (unless its as soon as you wake up, in which case you’ve got an even bigger problem!). I’m not suggesting you become teetotal, but being aware of what, when, and how much you are drinking will definitely impact your sleep.
Cut Out Smoking
I know this is probably the worse possible time to try and get someone to give up smoking, but there is plenty of research showing a direct link between smoking and insomnia. If you can cut down, you will be doing yourself a huge favour, and it will have an impact on your sleep quality.
No Chocolate Before Bed
This one is my downfall. I love having a bit of chocolate in the evening. But the science is clear. Snacking on sugary stuff less than two hours before bedtime is a sure road to poor quality sleep.
I promise you, this is a biggie. If you exercise and meditate regularly, you will see a dramatic shift in the quality and quantity of your sleep. You will sleep deeper, and you will find yourself waking up far more refreshed. Exercise kick-starts plenty of dopamine, and serotonin, which will contribute to a greater feeling of wellbeing and contribute to a much better night’s sleep.
Cut Out Screens
As your brain gets ready to shut down for the evening, it starts producing melatonin. That’s the chemical which induces sleep. Phone screens and TVs inhibit the production of melatonin, and there’s plenty of research showing just how much screens impact sleep. So, thirty-minute before you normally go to sleep, do your brain a favour, shut it down gently with a good book. Preferably made of paper!
We are living through some very strange (and worrying) times, and it’s an enormous challenge to break well-established habits and routines. Sleep is the greatest gift we can give ourselves: you will find your levels and anxiety will drop, and your overall wellbeing will improve dramatically.
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