The lockdown lifestyle has had a massive impact on our lives – in particular, on our sleep. No longer is it early to bed, early to rise. Instead, people are staying up later, sleeping in and watching a lot more Netflix. The average person used to get up between 6am and 8am, but the surge in electricity consumption has shown that the majority of people are now getting up between 8am and 10am and staying up until gone midnight. This change in personal habits has affected the quality of sleep that they are getting. Perhaps you too have experienced issues with your sleep during lockdown. If so, it’s important to address this so that it doesn’t become a long-term problem, as poor sleep not only leads to health problems, but affects our fitness and weight.
Developing a good sleep routine
If there is an interruption to the body’s natural circadian rhythm in the short term, it can cause a lack of focus, fatigue and bad moods. However, in the long term, the effects of sleep deprivation can cause some serious medical conditions, including heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Ultimately it can shorten your life expectancy. This shows how important those eight little hours sleep are. Having a good sleep routine can make you healthier, but this means going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning (even at weekends), so set your alarm daily, even if you aren’t going out to work.
According to the Coffee Association of Canada, 66% of people drink coffee every day, particularly in the morning as a pick-me-up. Caffeine can have an adverse effect on your sleep, so make sure that your last cup of the day is at least eight hours before you are planning on going to bed. Nicotine is also a stimulant, which masks exhaustion and can interrupt your sleep, causing more serious issues like sleep apnea. It is advisable to avoid smoking near to bedtime (or give up completely). Instead of stimulants, swap them for natural products. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that CBD oil improved sleep quality in patients with insomnia, who fell asleep quicker. The Mayo Clinic also found it effective in treating anxiety, which in itself causes sleep issues. A few drops in the evening should be more beneficial than smoking a cigarette.
Having intense dreams has been a common complaint during lockdown. We are not getting the mental stimulation during the day, so our brains are compensating for this at night. To help your brain (and your body), make sure that you do plenty of exercise and get outside for a walk as often as you can. If you have anything that is on your mind, especially if it is causing you anxiety and worry, then write it down before you go to sleep. Making a list of your tasks can stop them from becoming overwhelming and infiltrating your dreams.
The lack of routine during lockdown has affected the sleep cycle of many people. It’s important to establish good sleep habits as soon as possible so that you have no long term health issues as a consequence.