Updated: May 16, 2020
The importance of sleep
During the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown many people are finding their sleep disrupted. This could be due to anxiety around the virus, working more if you are a key worker or a complete change in routine.
Although we have learnt much about sleep over the past few decades, the reasons for why we sleep are still not largely understood. However, we are aware of the consequences of a lack of sleep which include:
· Being more prone to physical illness
· Eating more than usual to keep energy stores up
· Changes in mood such as feeling more irritable, anxious or low
· Struggling with memory or concentration
Every individual requires a different number of hours sleep per night; however, it is generally accepted that most modern western adults are failing to get the required number of hours.
This may contribute to psychological wellbeing for some people and is therefore especially important to get it right during a crisis.
Improving your sleep during a crisis
If you have suddenly found yourself with more free time at home, then now may be the perfect opportunity to perfect your sleep routine. If you are working more than usual and struggling to get the required number of hours, then practicing sleep hygiene can be helpful at increasing the quality of your sleep. Try the following strategies:
Ensure your bed and bedding is comfortable and suitable to the season
Avoid working in your bedroom
Substances and food
Avoid caffeine for 6-8 hours before bedtime
Avoid alcohol for several hours before bedtime. Although it may help you get to sleep it reduces the quality of your sleep
Eat healthily and avoid heavy meals for several hours before bed
Avoid naps, especially in the evening or late afternoon
Exercise, at a gentle to moderate pace, a few hours before you plan to sleep
Keep to the same bedtime routine each night to help your mind learn what to expect
Worries and news
Ban yourself from reading and watching all sources of news in your bedroom
If you find yourself worrying as you get into bed, then keep a pad and pencil next to you and jot down anything that pops into your mind
Avoid all technology for an hour before bed
Finally, if you are struggling to sleep then it is better to get up than lie in bed becoming frustrated.
If you have been struggling to sleep for over 15 minutes then get out of bed and, if possible, move to another room. Engage in a relaxing activity such as reading (not the news!) or a puzzle then return to bed when you feel the urge to sleep again.
Seeking help for sleep
If you have tried implementing the above sleep hygiene techniques to limited effect or you are struggling with your mental health and sleep is one part of this difficulty, then it may be beneficial to seek professional support.
Please contact a member of our team to see how we can support you with sleep difficulties at Maromika at firstname.lastname@example.org