Having Trouble Sleeping? You’re not Alone
The Covid-19 pandemic is understandably causing many people a lot of anxiety and one of the main side effects of this can be insomnia. If you’re having problems getting to sleep and suffering from periods of lying awake worrying, you’re not alone. In the first five months of 2020 the number of search queries on Google for the word ‘insomnia’ went up by a whacking 58%, with the peak of those searches being around 3am each night.
The effects of long-term disrupted sleep can include things like: trouble with thinking straight and concentration, issues with short- and long-term memory, mood changes leading to anxiety and potentially depression, increased risk of accidents, weight gain, weakened immunity, high blood pressure and a low sex drive. Just reading that list is enough to make you have a sleepless night worrying about having a sleepless night and so the late-night spiral continues.
So, to help us all drift off more peacefully we asked Doctor Irshaad Ebrahim from the London Sleep Centre for his top sleeping tips.
“The singularly most important aspect to grasp during this challenging time is that we have the power to control our schedule. With all other aspects of our lives being subject to external control for society’s safety, our sleep-wake schedule is paradoxically more in our gift to manage than previously” says Dr Ebrahim. “It is precisely the realisation that we have the power to manage this aspect of our lives that can help mitigate against the negative impact of lockdown on our sleep and hence our mental and emotional health.”
Here are 11 things you can do to get a good night’s sleep
Stick to a regular bedtime and wake up schedule
Try to go to bed and get up about the same time each night and morning.
Make sure the time that you set for your bedtime, is a time when you’re sleepy.
Don’t go to bed too soon or you may have trouble falling asleep or your sleep may be restless.
When we’re tired after a poor night’s sleep it’s easy to think that crawling back into bed for a couple of hours in the afternoon might help, however, napping can disrupt normal sleep cycles. Try skipping your nap and see if your regular sleep patterns improve.
Make your bedroom a “quiet” room
Late-night Netflix is not your friend. Do not watch television in your bedroom. Use it for sleeping or quiet reading.
Establish relaxing before-bed routines.
Take a bath, a glass of warm milk, or do some light reading before bedtime.
Develop relaxation techniques
Learn yoga, deep breathing, quiet mediation or listen to soft music while trying to fall asleep.
Avoid troubling news right before bed.
The last thing you need is to scroll the news on your phone just before sleep. No good can come of it, it’ll only make you anxious and send you off down a rabbit hole of despair. Try reading a book instead.
Do not use stimulants or drink things that contain caffeine (tea, coffee, Coke etc.) 6 hours before bedtime.
Don’t smoke or drink close to bedtime.
Although you may think a cheeky nightcap or a quick ciggie may take the edge off and calm you down they can actually have very disrupting effects on your sleep during the night.
Regular activity helps the body and mind stay healthy, but be sure to avoid vigorous exercise right before bedtime.
Switch Off Regularly.
During this time, you may also find yourself spending more time online or using your phone, your iPad, your Playstation, often all at the same time. To prevent these from interfering with sleep, use the low blue light filter on your phone during the evening and try to stop using the other devices at least an hour before bed. If you must have your mobile in your bedroom at night, put it on night mode and make sure to turn off your notifications.
Dr Irshaad Ebrahim works at London Sleep Centre. https://londonsleepcentre.com