It is well known that sleep and mental health are linked but did you know that it is the quality of sleep you get, not necessarily the amount, which is important?
You may have noticed that your sleep patterns have changed since the lockdown began and you may be experiencing difficulty getting to sleep or wake up in the morning still feeling tired. And with the weather getting warmer it is more likely that you may find it more difficult to sleep.
So if getting a good night’s sleep is important for your mental health, what can you do during lockdown to improve your sleep?
If you cannot sleep because you have a physical problem that you are worried about remember you can still contact your GP to discuss, even if it’s not Coronavirus related. The NHS is still here to help you for all illnesses.
If it’s not a physical problem but something else that is keeping you awake at night you can trying practising mindfulness breathing techniques like those here at https://bemindful.co.uk/.
Eating less sugary food and drink, and especially drinks with caffeine, later in the day and getting regular exercise earlier in the day can help too. And while it may be tempting to drink alcohol, it often reduces your quality of sleep meaning you don’t feel as rested as you should.
Another tip is to have a regular routine and go to bed around the same time and make sure the room you sleep in has the features you need to get to sleep. Some people don’t mind a bit of noise, other people need it completely silent. Try using an eye mask or ear plugs if you need them and when the weather gets warm you may need to open a window, use a cool flannel or a fan to help reduce the temperature so you can sleep. As the days get longer you may also want to consider black out curtains to block out daylight early in the morning. If you do find yourself feeling tired during the day, try to avoid the temptation for a daytime snooze/ siesta if you can as it can make it more difficult for you to sleep at night.
When you are preparing to go to sleep you should also avoid using back lit mobile phones, ipads and other forms of technology as the light tricks the brain into thinking it’s daylight and the mind is often left in a whirl of information which in turn evoke emotions which are likely to keep you awake. It is far better to ease gently into a natural sleep. It can also help if you can resist the urge to ‘work’ from bed i.e. by using a laptop, as this can mean you start to associate bed with work instead of rest.
So whether you hit the hay, count sheep or head up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire each night, hopefully these tips can help you have a restful, deep sleep and wake up ready to face a new day.