We’re all feeling the lethargy of multiple lockdowns, and yet it never leads to a good night of slumber. And while binge watching Netflix may be entertaining, it’s also not great for your sleep pattern.
You need to strike through the monotony, stimulate your brain with different scenery by getting out the house and, while you’re at it, add some lavender oil to your pillow for good measure. Here are some ways you can knock the head on insomnia and drift off to dreamland.
1. Cut Out Caffeine
We all know this should be number 1. But how can one really survive without the life-reviving elixirs of coffee and tea? There’s no way a Zoom call is happening before a 8.30am latte. That’s just rude. However, too much of a good thing can mean you’re crying into your pillow at 3am without a wink of sleep.
According to research published by The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, you should cut out caffeine at least 6 hours before bedtime. That’ll help you drift off a bit better.
2. Tire Yourself Out With Exercise
There’s no two ways about it. You need to get off your ass and go for a run. Or do Joe Wicks’ PE lessons. Or download any of these fitness apps. Or even just go for a walk. Anything, to burn off some energy and make yourself feel exhausted. Watching Chariots Of Fire does not count.
Exercise is proven to help you fall asleep quicker and ensure you have a better quality sleep. But it’s best to get your exercise in the morning or at least 1 – 2 hours before you hit the sack, because aerobic exercise causes the body to release endorphins which can keep some people awake. Don’t use that as an excuse not to do it though. If Captain Tom can walk 100 lengths of his garden, you can certainly do a few laps of the park. Go on… get going.
3. Reduce Your Screen Time
Try to ditch your phone or tablet use two hours before bed and the TV at least an hour before bed. Instead, listen to a podcast, audio book or read. We’ve come up with a great list of soothing podcasts for you to try. Meditation and taking CBD oil might also help a busy mind wind down pre-bedtime.
4. Stick To Strict Bedtimes
Try to maintain a healthy sleeping pattern as much as possible. This includes trying to avoid napping. The short days will naturally make you feel sleepy but try to avoid that 3pm 40 winks if you can so that you’re suitably tired come bedtime.
5. Take In the Daylight
Exposure to more light during the day and less light at night is critical for healthy sleep patterns because it helps to calibrate the body’s internal circadian clock. Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body prepare for sleep and generally it is released about two hours before we go to sleep. Sunlight triggers the suppression of melatonin, so by going outdoors in the morning and sitting by a window can help keep you more energetic during the day for longer, so that you feel ready for bed later in the evening.
6. Keep The Heating Down
The body’s temperature drops as it prepares for the night, so cooler temperatures are actually better for it. As tempting as it may be to whack the thermostat up, try and bring it down to a reasonable room temperature (approx 18.3°C according to the Sleep Foundation).
7. Limit Alcohol
It turns out there’s good reason to do Dry January: it helps with your sleep. One too many nightcaps can reduce the quality of your sleep and can affect the part of your brain that usually controls the body while it’s napping. Why not try swapping out your favourite alcoholic tipples with these booze-free alternatives.
It’s really important not to get too worked up before bedtime, which is easier said than done. Limit how much news you watch and what you read about coronavirus. While these are stressful times, there’s nothing you can do about the situation apart from abide by the rules. The same goes for work. While you’re doing business at home, try to clock off properly at the end of the day, stop answering emails and turn your notifications off.
As well as cutting out different elements, why not add a few in, too. Have a go at a YouTube meditation or try one of these 7 apps to improve your mental health.
9. Have A Bath
The body naturally reduces in temperature in preparation for nighttime. By having a bath, you actually reduce the core temperature of your body. This is because the heat comes to the surface of the body and is expelled out. What’s more, the whole experience is thoroughly relaxing. Add some salts to soothe muscles, light a candle and listen to some relaxing music. It’ll work wonders.
10. Read A Book
If it’s one of your New Year’s resolution, then this step kills two birds with one stone. And if it’s not your New Year’s resolution, you should make it one. After all, nothing improves a person more than expanding one’s mind. Or something like that. Either way, reading a book before bed reduces the blue glare you’re taking in from your electronic devices and it can also help you fall asleep. Plus it’s proven to be a big stress reducer.
11. Keep A Diary
This is another way to level out anxiety – by putting pen to paper. While not all of us are going to be the next Bridget Jones or Samuel Pepys, jotting down a few thoughts can help reduce stress. You can also keep tabs on your sleep patterns to see what days are working best and why (was it your diet, for example?). And anytime you have a nightmare, note that down, too. It can help reduce your worries, and, more importantly, it’s fun to Google what they mean in the morning.
12. Revamp Your Bedroom
There are a few things you can do to your bedroom to help your night get off to a good start. Try and keep this space separate to the area that you live and work in. Separating this in your mind can often help trigger your brain into the right actions when it comes to nighttime. Hide your electronic items so they’re not flashing or glaring at you, purchase some blackout blinds, and carpet the floor so as not to be woken by your partner. You can also try painting your room a zen colour; apparently blue is the most comforting colour for sleep.
13. Don’t Eat Too Late
If you have supper just before bed, this is likely to keep you up. That’s because when we eat, our muscles are busy digesting and when we sleep they should be resting. This can prevent your body from nodding off. So have a nice early dinner and don’t snack too much either.
14. Get A Comfy Bed
It seems obvious to ask, but is your mattress comfy? A pokey surface or a duvet that’s too thin can really put a spanner in the works when it comes to catching those little zeds. There are lots of types of mattresses from foam to spring, from firm to soft. The same goes for pillows, blankets and duvets. Try some silky options, cotton or a lower tog to stop the night sweats.
15. Buy A Pillow Spray
Essential oils can really help to soothe the soul. Lavender is seen as having anxiety reducing properties that also help to enhance sleep. Other herbal remedies like jasmine, sandalwood and geranium have been known to help too – a few drops on your pillow and you’ll be counting sheep in no time.
16. Store The Right Accessories
You might need a few little helpful items to get you on your way. A box of goodies by the bedside is always good to keep, so you know everything is to hand. Stock up on ear plugs, silky soft eye masks, nasal spray (in case you snore), silk scrunchies… whatever might help.
17. Have Sex
According to some scientists, a good romp in the bedroom can rock you to sleep. That’s because, after an orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. Depending on where you are with your partner at this stage of lockdown, you might just opt for the eye mask and ear plugs.