I’m not a great sleeper, never have been. Trying to switch off the old noggin after a busy day has always been a sticking point for me. My mind usually races around everything that’s gone on in the day and my mind is constantly planning for the rest of the week.
I’ve certainly found that lockdown has heightened this, especially with disrupted daily routines and has made sleep ever harder to come by. ‘Coronasomnia’ is an actual thing! Who knew? With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few hints and tips that have helped me to try and have a more restful night sleep.
Avoid looking at the news before sleeping
The sheer volume of information and news reports on the pandemic at the moment is pretty overwhelming. It certainly can play on your mind as night draws in. Try and avoid the temptation to watch the news or use social media a few hours before bed. A tricky one and easier said than done; but it does help if you can do it.
(Try to) Eat well and exercise
So simple. But I can be guilty of reaching for the easiest lunch/tea option for speed and convenience and will put off that run as there’s ‘something else to do’ but studies have shown that regular exercise and being active during the day can help you sleep better by relieving any worry or anxiety you have. That feeling when you actually come back from a run too is always worth it as opposed to the feeling of dread prior to doing it!
A healthy diet is also linked with good sleep. Eating larger meals later at night can also cause indigestion and affect sleep patterns, aim for something lighter, early evening-ish (oh, and drink that water, plenty of it throughout the day, being dehydrated can make you feel just rotten)
Practise winding down
Yes, this is a thing too. I need to actively do this to help switch the grey matter off.
Try some relaxation techniques maybe:
* Take a bath or shower - a relaxing bath or shower can help your overall quality of sleep, and help you fall asleep faster. The cooling down of your body helps create a stronger sleep urge which can also send you into a deeper sleep. This is something that has really helped with my sleep struggles over the past few weeks.
* Dim the lights and put some calming music on. There’s plenty of ‘spa type’ playlists on Spotify or Amazon music, and the twinkly noises give you that inner calm feeling.
* Read a book. Simples.
* Eye mask. Get one. The darkness and bit of pressure on the eyes I find really relaxing, especially if your room isn’t in complete darkness. I’ve recently got into ‘Spacemasks’ these are self-warming eye masks, which even smell ‘sleepy’ – highly recommend giving those a go.
* Try an online yoga/meditation class. There’s plenty online, either on YouTube or some Instagrammers are offering yoga/meditation classes online for a small donation. I recently started doing an online class, and the combination of stretches and breathing techniques certainly help me feel more zen afterwards.
Create a routine
Creating a routine for yourself can help provide a feeling of normality which let’s be honest, we are all craving at the moment. Having a routine also helps me to feel calm and in control. Try to stick to the same sleep schedule at night so your body can find its natural rhythm. Although I love a cheeky weekend lie in, try and avoid sleeping in at the weekend, as this can make it harder to wake up on Monday morning. No one likes that Monday morning feeling at the best of times!
Getting outside, breathing in that fresh air and grabbing some natural light plays an important role in keeping your body in balance. The outdoor light and the dark, helps to regulate a hormone in your body called melatonin, which helps to regulate your sleeping patterns.
Try and stick to the same times to sleep & wake up
Not having to wake up for anything in particular can lead us to keep sleeping in during the day and in turn we then stay up into the early hours. Ok, so that’s ok every now and again, but night after night and morning after morning it becomes a harder cycle to break. Plus, if you do end up waking up at a normal ‘earlyish’ time, you’ll find you are actually tired come the end of the day and find falling asleep that bit easier.
These are things that have helped me, or, I am trying to practise a bit more. Hopefully some of the above will help you too, but if you’ve any tips, I’d love to hear them!