Our lives have changed dramatically in the last week or two. Our daily routine of getting up and setting out to take care of those things that we used to take for granted simply evaporated in a matter of days. I would never have thought that our "rat race" existence would change so dramatically. Our daily rhythm and routine have been disrupted and all of a sudden we find ourselves in a place that is unfamiliar and we are uncertain about our future; our jobs; and our economy
This unfamiliarity and uncertainty can cause stress and anxiety. Anxiety and stress can then play havoc with our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. On the other hand, the inability to sleep well can then increase stress and anxiety, aggravating the ability to sleep well. And so it carries on, making us more and more stressed, depressed and anxious. If we sleep better, we can handle stress better. But how do we sleep better in these uncertain times?
Luckily there is a lot we can do during the day to set us up for a good nights sleep.
Create and maintain a daily schedule
Remember that what we do during the day, impacts on how we sleep during the night. That is why it is important to still get up at the same time in the morning, every morning. Get up and start with a set routine such as eating breakfast, shower, exercise. Try to do routine tasks like eating and exercising during the same time every day This will help to keep your circadian rhythm in check and will help you to expect some kind of familiarity which will help you to reduce stress and anxiety.
Stay as active as possible through the day
By being active during the day is very important. It is very easy for those of us that do not have to work remotely from our homes, to fall into the rut. Have your day planned out. This lockdown time is the perfect opportunity for all the things that you normally don't have time to do. The point is to stay as productive as possible.
Prevent daytime naps
During the day we secrete an important chemical known as adenosine. Adenosine levels build up during the day that will help us to fall asleep during the night. We can compare it with blowing up a balloon: The fuller the balloon is with adenosine at the end of the day, the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. When you take a nap during the day, you deflate your balloon, making it more difficult to fall asleep at night.
Have a buffer zone
Having a buffer zone is very important. We as sleep therapists introduce buffer zones as part of therapy. for people suffering from insomnia. A buffer zone is a time during the day when you decide to switch off. It is the time during the day when you prepare to go to sleep. You can prepare your body to go to sleep by switching off all unnecessary lights in your home to help with melatonin release. You can also take a hot bath or shower to help your body recognise that it is time to sleep. It is a time where you must relax and refrain from arousing activities like exercising. Your buffer zone can be anything between 30 minutes to an hour.
Go to bed at the same time every night.
This is important to keep a daily schedule. Your body and your brain need a level of predictability and structure to help to reduce your stress level. The time you go to bed is up to you, but try to be in bed at the latest by 11 pm. Remember that every hour before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight. If you cannot fall asleep within 20-30 minutes, do not lay in bed rolling around and worry. Get up and go to a different room. Write down your worries or read something until you feel sleepy enough to go to bed and try to fall asleep again. Keep on doing this until you fall asleep. It is important to wake up at the same time in the morning, even if you had a bad night.
This time in lockdown is the perfect time to improve your sleep. Remember that going to sleep is like going to the toilet - it is going to happen sooner than later. So do not stress about it. Do not try to sleep. Just let it happen. Just stay calm.
I wish you all the best during the lockdown period. Keep on dreaming beautiful dreams
If you need any help to improve your sleep, please get in contact with me here, for a free 15-minute consultation.