How To Get Better Sleep During COVID-19

scheduleMarch 27, 2020
personBilly Lewis
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While we’re all confined to the four walls of our home, it’s important for us to maintain a consistent state of wellbeing. Numerous studies show that sleep is a key factor in both physical, and mental/emotional health, so it’s important that we get our sleep right above all else during this time of isolation. Sleep allows our bodies to repair themselves during the evening, our brains to consolidate our memories and our subconscious mind to process what has happened during the day.

Now we all know that being inside has its perks – yes we get to relax and have time to do the things we love, however it’s important that we maintain a sense of discipline in order to stay level-headed. We’ve compiled some tools and tricks that you can bring in to your day, to make sure you’re getting a solid 8 hours sleep, even while stuck indoors.

Tip 1: Exercise during the day

exercise

For some of you this may be an unwelcome reminder, however exercise does not go amiss even when stuck indoors. In fact, it’s more important because we’re not going about our usual business of the day. Exercising, even for 20 minutes, can have a dramatic effect on your overall state of wellbeing and also just help to clear that stagnant cabin-fever energy that can come from being indoors. 

We recommend some body weight exercises (push ups, sit ups, squats), yoga, ecstatic dance or even just shaking your body out – whatever feels good for you, as long as you get your body moving. We recommend not exercising late in the day as this will actually prevent you from sleeping even further – so try to get your daily movement in before the sun goes down.

Tip 2: Reduce Blue Light Exposure

bluelight

Now, we all know the evenings are a nice time to have a scroll on social media, however it’s really not good for our overall sleep cycles. The light that emits from your phone or computer screen is actually received by your eyes as the same frequency as sunlight, which tricks your brain into thinking it is the middle of the day. This messes with our circadian rhythms  (natural rhythms of the brain & body) and essentially tells our brain and body that it is not time to sleep, but to in fact be up & about, going through our daily tasks.

Another reason to reduce blue light exposure is because of the nature of social media and the way that notifications (likes, comments, followers) affect our dopamine levels. When you see that little red alert that signifies a new follower, it’s actually activating stress receptors in your brain that are creating mini adrenaline rushes (also known as dopamine hits) which counteract your ability to sleep well also.

Tip 3: Avoid Alcohol

alcohol

This one might go without saying, but alcohol can affect your quality of sleep in many different ways. Alcohol is often full of sugar which causes spikes in our adrenals and keeps us up at night. It also dehydrates the body of precious water and minerals as it goes into overdrive to fight off the perceived poison that is in the body. Alcohol also suppresses production of melatonin, a critical sleep hormone that maintains our bodies’ circadian rhythm. 

Try to avoid alcohol in general during this time, as it also acts as a depressant, which we definitely don’t need right now.

Tip 4: Eat Dinner Earlier

foodcoma

The time at which we eat dinner is directly related to getting a good sleep as well. We all might have heard the term “food coma”, when you tackle a big meal and end up as a potato on the couch. This occurs because all of our energy from our body is being directed to digesting food, depleting the rest of our vital systems of the energy that they need. 

When you eat a large meal before bed, the same thing occurs. Your body is so focused on digesting your dinner that it doesn’t have the time or energy to replenish the other systems that it regularly would overnight. This results in you waking up feeling unrested and lethargic, which in turn leads to a worse sleep the following night. 

Try eating your final meal at least two hours before you hop into bed, ensuring that your body is given ample space to rest and recover before the next day. 

Tip 5: Get A Natural Rhythm Going

flower

As mentioned above, our brain and bodies have a natural set of rhythms that play out over the course of a day. You could compare it to a flower – in the morning, it stretches its petals open to receive the sunlight and stays active throughout the day, then in the evening it will close in on itself, to wind down and rest.

Our human bodies act in the exact same way – thousands of years of evolution have tuned us to the cycles of day and night – so even though we’re in 2020 and we have everything we could possibly need, we still have to respect the fact that we are part of nature. 

This plays out in many different ways which we can incorporate into our day. Some simple techniques for connecting to your natural rhythms are listed here: 

  • Get in to nature (if you can)
  • Eat your largest meal in the middle of the day
  • Don’t use blue light after sun down
  • Breathe fresh, clean air
  • Move and activate your body

Tip 6: Clear Your Mind

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Our days, even when in isolation, are full of sensory inputs. Thoughts, conversations, tasks, mistakes and activities all take up space in our brain and put our minds into overdrive. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the frustration of tossing & turning while trying to sleep – the mind is one of the biggest obstacles in the way of a good sleep. We battle thousands of thoughts that whirl around in our heads before eventually drifting off. 

This exact reason is why it’s so important to slowly wind down as the time for sleeping nears. Try only using candlelight, or having a warm bath or shower before bed. Try meditating, or reading a book as you begin to relax in the evening. All of these practices help to encourage our body to rest – they tell our whole being that it’s time to relax and recover. It helps our mind to let go of the day and put it in a more complacent state – so not only do you fall asleep easier, but you get a more wholesome and rejuvenating rest as well.