6 June 2020
For many of us, one of the first casualties of lockdown has been our sleep. We may find ourselves waking up more during the night and not being able to get back to sleep, or be waking up much earlier than usual. Or, we may be aware the quality of our sleep has worsened and we’re having to begin the day feeling unrested.
Covid-19 has brought with it a complete change in the way we work, live and socialise. Our routines have been disrupted and we may no longer be able to do the things that help us sleep. Add in the stress of working from home, home educating and an uncertain future and it’s no surprise that our body’s whole system is in a state of high alert.
For more on what happens when our body is in high alert check out https://www.blossomhypnotherapy.com/fight-flight-understanding-body-responds-stress/
This state of high alert makes it difficult to wind down at the end of the day and get the kind of sleep we would like. Rather than taking time to relax in the evening, many of us are now catching up on work, searching for more and more information on the virus and its effects. We may be constantly checking our phones for updates, before bed or even when we wake in the middle of the night. Without realising it, we’re spending time thinking about what’s happening right now and what may happen in future.
We all need a good night’s sleep. It’s essential for us to function properly in our daily lives. Sleeping is how we store memories and experiences, and how we rest and replenish our body for the day ahead.
According to the Sleep Council’s Great British Bedtime report, one in three people have suffered with sleep problems for over 5 years.
And, that’s without the additional strain on our sleep that’s come with lockdown. That’s a lot of restless nights.
Lack of sleep can be a vicious cycle. Sleeping badly can be caused by anxiety and depression, and even when it isn’t, not getting enough slumber can make us feel depressed and anxious.
We have probably all experienced the odd restless night. This doesn’t do us any harm as long as we can catch up the next night.
For that third of people who can’t get their forty winks, going to bed and dropping off easily just doesn’t happen. Without a good night’s sleep, it’s difficult to find the energy to do all the things we need to do in our busy lives. Usually, it is worry or stress that keeps us awake. And once a habit of resting badly is in place, it can continue even if the worry that caused it has gone.
And of course, there’s a lot to worry about right now. We’re all feeling unsafe when we are out in the world. We’re worrying about our health, our children’s education, if our jobs are safe. So, as our bodies and minds feel less safe, we struggle to fall asleep and wake up feeling unrested.
If you’re worrying a lot right now, read https://www.blossomhypnotherapy.com/worry-what-to-do-when-you-cant-stop-worrying/
The good news is there’s no need to suffer from sleeplessness.
Richard, a 45 year old travel consultant, came to see me a few weeks before lockdown. He hadn’t slept through the night for years and was surviving on 4 or 5 hours every night. After two sessions, he was sleeping right through again. Richard continued to see me online during lockdown. He is still sleeping through the night, despite all his very real worries about the survival of his travel business.
Philip, a 54 year old GP started seeing me online during lockdown. He had woken in the night since he was a child. After his first session, he sent me this email.
“Thank you very much again for the session last night. I listened to the recording again. It was very calming. Perhaps not surprising for you, I had very deep, healthy, undisturbed good quality sleep. I can’t remember the last time that happened.”
Stop worrying about the amount of sleep you get. Different people need differing amounts of sleep, depending on their age and activity levels. Focus instead on getting the right amount of rest for you, rather than worrying about getting a fixed eight hours. Many people with sleep problems develop anxiety over how much shuteye they are getting and this makes it harder for them to relax come bedtime.
Keep a sleep diary. Often you are getting more than you think. Keeping a sleep record can help you to find out exactly what is going on at night and make it easier to treat.
Learn to relax and clear your mind. When you lie in bed, try to think about something relaxing such as being on a beach looking at the ocean, or going for a long, leisurely walk in the countryside. Picture it in your mind, including what you would see, hear and smell. Use your imagination to feel what it would be like to be there. Try and focus on your breathing to deepen your relaxation, making it easier to drop off at night. Breathe in through the nose and slowly exhale. Try and make your out breath last longer than the in breath. Click here for more on how to relax.
Keep an eye on your caffeine intake. Drinking caffeine close to bedtime will make it more difficult to sleep. Try and avoid coffee, tea, chocolate and cola four hours before going to bed.
Have a bedtime routine. Try and spend the hour before bed unwinding and preparing for sleep. Turn down bright lights, listen to relaxing music and try not to look at electronic devices. It helps to go to bed and get up at the same time every day so your body knows what to expect.
For more information on how I can help you with your sleep click here.
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