Sleeping badly during the Coronavirus? Here's what to do...

Naturalmat's sleep expert Christabel Majendie takes you through some top tips to help you manage sleep disturbance during the Coronavirus

There’s a raised level of anxiety and stress due to the Coronavirus pandemic across the world. 

People are worried about their own health and their loved ones; many are working from home while also home-schooling; others have been furloughed and face financial concerns; key workers feel at risk; even food shopping is stressful.

We’ve all had to significantly change the way we live and there’s uncertainty about when or how this will end. Both change and uncertainty tend to create anxiety.

So aim to stress bust and manage anxiety:-

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day - a great way to relieve stress and improve sleep quality
  • Limit caffeine as this can enhance feelings of stress and disrupt sleep
  • Take regular breaks in the day to do some simple breathing exercises
  • Talk to a friend
  • Avoid too much alcohol as this can affect sleep quality
  • Relax in the hour before bed with some reading, listening to music or a warm bath to wind down for sleep.

People are spending less time outside and this affects the body’s circadian rhythm which dictates the sleep/ wake cycle. 

This system has evolved with the rise and fall of the sun so it gets disrupted by too much time indoors where the light is dimmer. Even on a cloudy day, the light outside is ten times stronger than artificial light. 

  • In the morning, get outside for 30-60 minutes every day, ideally combining this with exercise. 
  • Open all curtains and blinds in the morning and sit by a window when inside. 
  • Avoid working in your bedroom; you want to associate your bed with slumber not wakefulness so keep it just for sleep and intimacy. 

There’s been an increase in the use of electronic devices in the evening and this can delay sleep.

When there’s less light in the evening, your circadian rhythm will signal to your body it’s time for sleep by releasing a hormone called melatonin. However, light from electronic devices can suppress this response as can bright, artificial light. 

In addition, what people do on these devices tends to increase alertness, not the response you want before bedtime. So put away your devices an hour before bed time and use soft, side lights or dimmers to relax. 

Many people have lost their daily structure and routine and this can cause sleep disruption. 

Your circadian rhythm likes routine:-

  • Regular rise times and bedtime
  • Regular meal times
  • Regular exercise
  • Regular light and darkness
  • Regular wind down before bed.

So, help your body clock to stay strong by consistently setting these routines at the same time across the week, even at the weekend.