If you are one of the 43% of people struggling to sleep during the lockdown then we have you covered.
We spoke with Dr. Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert working with The Sleep Council and Sleep Station. Dr. Stanley knows about sleep and he loves sleeping! It is the best part of his day so if you want some tips and tricks to get the perfect night's sleep then watch the video and read on.
The issue with sleep at the moment is our general anxiety levels. To get a goodnight’s sleep you need a quiet mind. You need to put your cares to bed before you get in to bed.
Don’t watch the news, don’t talk about the mortgage before bed. If your mind is still racing before you get into bed use a technique. Try taking seven away from 1000, or listen to music. Distract your mind from your worries.
Loss of routine impacts sleep. If you are used to getting up at the crack of dawn for your commute then when you don’t you are changing or losing your routine. This pandemic is an opportunity to change your routine to your benefit. If you can’t go out at night then that is a good time to go to sleep and then sleep until you naturally wake up. Of course when this crazy time finishes we may have to go back to our old routine and we will have to change again but maybe we can keep some better habits.
DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED?
In the past it was easy to go to bed, TV off at 10.30, pubs shut and no late-night shopping. You went to bed when the coal fire burnt down. Now we have so many lovely things stopping us from sleeping, things that look more fun than sleep. Without the need to get up early you are asking yourself, ‘Why am I sleeping’ and if you can amuse yourself you might avoid sleep.
We all have a 10-20 minute window when we should sleep. (It is very hard to spot the right time). We should sleep when we are sleepy. The minute your head starts nodding on the couch you should go to sleep, don’t just turn up the TV, listen to your body.
Men aren’t always in touch with their feelings and there is a macho feeling that sleep is for wimps, but if your body wants to sleep you should obey the body and see sleep as a pleasure. Going to sleep should be the best thing about your day, but for too many of us staying awake to watch the Belarussian football league is the most important thing. If you don’t see sleep as important you aren’t going to do it.
WILL I EVER SLEEP WELL AGAIN, NOW I HAVE KIDS?
Children are bad for sleep and that becomes your new normal. Not sleeping or having disturbed nights is a bad habit and it won’t resolve itself you have to be actively changing that as your children grow. There is a good reason for this. Mothers have greater sensitivity to children’s noise (than women without children), so they can hear their children. Fathers also have better hearing for their children than men or women who haven’t had children. Once we have kids we are designed to pick up on the noises our children make to protect them and that doesn’t go away just because your kids leave home. You have to retrain yourself into your pre-child sleep habits. You have to look at your sleep and make changes.
SLEEP IS IMPORTANTS SO HERE ARE SOME TIPS
All books about sleep are nonsense. What works for you is key. You need to have a discussion and ask the whole family. Getting stressed definitely doesn’t work. Just like your child you need a relaxing wind down before bed. You need a routine, wind down for 30 minutes is good. Playing computer games and then jumping into bed isn’t going to work for either you or your child.
- We must take care of ourselves.
- We need to eat well
- Sleep in a new routine and remember that routine is key for us and for our children.
- You need to have a line in the sand, a time you don’t cross by not going to bed.
- You need to have a rule that beds are for sleeping not for lying in all day.
- Remember Sleep is important – that is rule number 1,2,3 and 4. If you see sleep as important you will make beneficial changes. Make your bedroom dark, remove tvs, phones and laptops. Just see sleep and wind down as important and then don’t worry about it. Allow your self the time to get a good sleep. Go to bed and sleep when you need and wake up naturally.
RIGHT NOW 45% of people are sleeping badly- COVID-19 HAVING A SEVERE IMPACT ON SLEEP, A NATIONAL SLEEP SURVEY REVEALS
We are seeing that vicious circle you aren’t sleeping because you are anxious, you are anxious because you aren’t sleeping. You need to be alert to your sleep health both now and when we try and go back to normal. Get a new routine and be aware that there will be another bump when we all get out of lockdown.
About Dr Neil Stanley
An independent freelance sleep expert with 38 years experience and and also works with the Sleep Council and is resident Sleep Expert at Sleepstation a provider of digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which unlike other providers is fully supported by humans to help you through the programme and to answer your questions. Sleepstation is freely available on the NHS in England.