by Heather

April 17, 2020

Man having difficulty sleeping during coronavirus crisis

Sleep problems are common. 

Most of us will have had the odd night or two when we struggled to get to sleep for one reason or another. Generally such issues resolve over a short period of time but long term sleep problems will interfere with daily activities.

More importantly sleep problems raise the risk of developing other long term health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke.

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Since the coronavirus lockdown started sleep issues have become more problematic and #cantsleep has been a regular phrase trending on twitter. A combination of a very new and unusual situation combined with anxieties about health, finances, schooling, separation from friends and families has led to many of us suffering with disturbed sleep.

Sleep is essential for our health in order to help the body repair and regenerate. We need on average 6-8 hours to be able to function normally.

Have you noticed any of the following issues around sleeping?

  • Finding it difficult to fall asleep
  • Lying awake for long periods at night
  • Waking up several times during the night
  • Waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep
  • Feeling down or have a lower mood
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Being more irritable than usual
  • Feeling like you have not slept well when you wake in the morning?

Top tips to help you sleep better

First and foremost, keeping some form of regular structure seems to help. Routines help us keep grounded.

Waking, eating, showering and going to bed at the same times each day helps the body anticipate a routine and is helpful in managing any underlying anxiety. Routines are good for managing anxiety and for preparing the body and mind for sleep.

Tips for Healthy Sleep

Try to exercise daily, and outside if possible, partly to increase levels of fitness but also because exposure to daylight helps us produce the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and waking.

Reduce the amount of caffeine and alcohol that you consume before bed as both are stimulants that keep you awake.

Create a calm restful environment. Ensure that the room is cool. Ideally the bedroom temperature should be between 16-18 degrees C. Try a warm bath before bed. Body temperature needs to drop a degree to enable us to sleep and rooms kept between 16-18 degree temperature help facilitate this.

Ideally keep your bedroom as a room you sleep in, try not to associate it with work- this may be difficult during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Try to limit the amount of news consumed, particularly before bedtime as it can increase worries.

Try to turn phones and tablets off an hour before bed as the blue light emitted from them can interfere with sleep.

Try not to take worries to bed with you- focus on something else such as book to help with relaxation.

Concentrate on breathing a you try to get to sleep, notice your breathing rate and try to focus on breathing deeply and relaxing muscles.

If you find you wake up and can’t get back to sleep then try to write down your worries and thoughts. Putting things on paper can help get rid of them and then you can look at them the following day and deal with them then.

About the author 

Heather

Heather is co-owner and Director of Training of HTS Training Ltd - the specialist first aid training providers. She has been a registered nurse for over 25 years, and has been training first aid commercially for more than 15 years.

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