The UK has gone into lockdown as Britain, like the rest of the world, tries to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to coping with the worry of contracting the virus, many people work from home and homeschool their children. Others are out of work or facing the prospect of losing their jobs. All of these circumstances will be causing many people to stress and, consequently, more than the odd sleepless night.
Here are six sleep hacks to help you sleep regularly during the lockdown:
1) Keep your workspace away from your bed
If you’re one of the many people who is working from home, keep your workspace away from your bed. Brilliant if you have your own office in the house, but if not, set up space in the kitchen, living room or another part of the house if you can.
Sleeping near a workspace can keep you up at night because it reminds you of all the work you have to do. You might even feel tempted to start doing some of the work at random times, possibly even in the middle of the night if you have children. The best thing you can do is leave your laptop and any other tools you need for your work in another room.
2) Stick as closely to a regular schedule as possible
The weekends might give you the excuse to stay in bed longer but resist and keep to your working week schedule. The brain cherishes routine, and the human internal clock follows a circadian rhythm close to the natural 24-hour cycle.
That means you should try to sleep in line with the natural cycle. Daylight triggers wakefulness hormones, whereas night-time brings on the secretion of melatonin, which helps us sleep. Staying up late and getting up later than you normally do alters your body clock, just as travelling across different countries does. It’s a kind of ‘social jet lag’ that makes getting up more of a struggle in the morning.
3) Check your mattress
The last thing you want just now is an uncomfortable mattress. Is it the right size? Does it still give you lots of cushioning? A mattress that sags in the middle and leaves you feeling tired and irritable the next day is a mattress you need to change. Take advantage of the lockdown and browse some mattresses online for a more suitable one.
There are steps you can take to look after your mattress. The kids may be around more just now, but don’t let them jump up and down on your mattress, which places strain on the mattress. You should also air your pillows and mattress every day for 20 minutes by pulling the duvet cover back to let the moisture evaporate out. Every three months, turn your mattress over, too, if the instructions state this is possible. Now’s a good time to start if you’ve not already been doing so.
4) Practise mindful meditation
Anything that soothes you and makes it easier to address stressful issues in your daily life can help you sleep better. Note that this doesn’t refer to damaging behaviours such as drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs to cope with it.
Meditation is a superb way to find some peace and sleep at night. Mindfulness meditation breaks the train of your daily thoughts and encourages you to focus on the present moment and your breathing. The aim is to develop a relaxation response that naturally kicks into gear in more challenging times and can help you sleep much more easily.
5) Don’t stare at the clock
If you have a clock in your room, remove it or turn it around so that the clock faces the wall. Staring at your alarm clock will only make you more anxious and stop you from sleeping. If you’re really struggling to sleep, get up and do something that relaxes you (but stay away from screens because they’ll only keep you up longer). Keep the lights dim and when you begin feeling drowsy, jump back into bed again.
6) Work through your thoughts
In stressful circumstances like these, your thoughts can run away with you. You find yourself thinking about anything and everything that has happened today will happen tomorrow or could do. These thoughts will keep you up all night if you climb into bed with them.
So, process the day and work through your thoughts. Write up a to-do list for the next day. This all clears your mind of the things you still have on it. Then you climb into bed feeling that little bit more relaxed and get off to sleep.
Even though we’re experiencing difficult, stressful times and living in lockdown just now, you don’t have to forgo your sleep. These sleeping hacks will help you get that much-needed shuteye to persevere throughout this challenging period. Other tips you could try include trying to keep active during the day, sleeping away from your phone and steering clear of long daytime naps.