Now, more than ever, we are being reminded of the importance of sleep and how vital it is to our mental and physical wellbeing. But how easy is it to achieve this at the moment, when we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, living under various restrictions and everything that brings?
Getting sleep - and enough good quality sleep - not only means our body is physically resting and repairing itself, but it also enables us to concentrate on whatever the day throws at us. It means that we start the day feeling refreshed, that mentally we feel more able to process what is happening and whatever emotions that brings up for us.
Recent research by Public Health England stated that 20.2% of adults who had previously not suffered with sleep loss were now experiencing this as a result of the pandemic and lockdown.
So, what can we do to help get enough good quality sleep?
In a digital age where we are all connected via smartphones, iPads and laptops - you’re probably reading this on one now - our brains are regularly stimulated by a screen. Setting yourself a cut off time to turn the screens, including the tv, off is one thing which can really help. From this, build up a personal sleep routine. Find what works for you. What helps you begin to relax and let your brain switch off a little? If you find your mind is constantly whirring try writing down your thoughts from the day, or things you need to get done tomorrow. Look at making your bedroom a peaceful haven, with low lighting, some fresh air and relaxing music.
Your life may be incredibly different now to just over a year ago. If you are usually a very social person you may be struggling with the lack of in-person interaction with others. Many are struggling financially. With us all spending so much time at home, you may have found that your alcohol consumption has increased. While that may make you feel more relaxed and as though you fall asleep more easily, it is actually doing you more harm in terms of achieving quality sleep. Alcohol can also enhance any feelings, particularly those of loneliness and depression. It may be beneficial to reduce your alcohol consumption as part of your new bedtime routine.
Taking these steps may require some effort to begin with, but once it becomes part of your normal routine you may find you are doing things without a second thought.
This will, hopefully, then lead to you finding yourself waking up a little more easily in the morning and feeling more able and confident to manage whatever comes your way.
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Views expressed in this article are the views of the writer and not necessarily the views of BACP. Publication does not imply endorsement of the writer’s views. Reasonable care has been taken to avoid errors but no liability will be accepted for any errors that may occur.