5 Easy Hacks to Help You Sleep Better During Lockdown

How to reclaim the health-boosting, restorative sleep that everyone can benefit from at this time.

Apr 28, 2020

Struggling with less than perfect sleep during this extended stay-at-home period? You’re not alone. A recent study shows that sleep disturbances under lockdown are common. The good news is that there are some easy things you can do to restore your shuteye to optimal levels, despite the changes to daily life. And adopting these sleep-promoting habits will get your through quarantine and beyond.

Some of these tips are about how you fill your day — trying to keep your regular schedule including exercising, and paying attention to what you eat and drink. Others relate to the way you get ready for bed and sleep. Not surprisingly, as things slow down and we lay in bed, anxiety can kick in. Worries leave us with sustained high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, so there are ideas about how to reset the way we prepare for night-time.

And sleep doesn’t just make us feel better, it boosts our health and immunity, which is top priority at this time. As Dr. Nicole Avena, assistant professor of Neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine explains: When people are sleep-deprived, their immune system is not able to function as well as it would if they'd had a good night's rest.” So follow these tips to enhance your sleep!

1. Recreate routine

Life has changed dramatically for most of us, with our self-isolation disrupting our usual routine, including the amount of time we spend outside and mealtimes, two powerful forces aligning out circadian rhythm, our internal clock regulating our sleep patterns.

But remember that humans are creatures of habit and thrive on a schedule. So even if you feel like lounging around in your pajamas all day, or working into the early hours if you’re WFM, maintaining a schedule that’s as normal as possible will enhance your sleep quality.

Aim to mirror your previous routine. If you started the day with a workout, try and jog or go for a walk, or do a home workout. If you’re used to meeting up with friends later, hop on a group call in the afternoon.

Differentiate between a time to focus and a time to unwind. It’s important to create spaces for different activities like work, entertainment and sleeping, even in small homes. Dr. Sophie Bostock, cautions that using your bed as a makeshift office is bad for posture, productivity, hygiene, and sleep.

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2. Incorporate movement into each day

Aerobic and resistance exercise has been shown to enhance sleep. Make time for regular exercise to expend energy and promote the homeostatic sleep drive (that regulates sleep intensity), naturally tiring the body when you’re awake in readiness for restful sleep.

A study of 160,000 U.S. participants self-quarantining indoors to combat the spread of the virus, also involving some 68,000 people using fitness trackers, found dramatic 48 percent reductions in activity between the start of March and April 6, and a parallel rise in anxiety and snacking habits.

Why not check out the varied and expanding menu of appealing and free workout videos just waiting for you online? Whether you’re a beginner or a fitness maven, these are available in a range of fitness styles and levels to help you off the sofa and overcome that nagging feeling of restlessness.  Even just dancing around your living room counts as physical exercise, and is a great mood-booster too.

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3. Pay attention to what you eat and drink

Eat lighter meals from two hours before bedtime so you don’t force your digestive system to work when you’re winding down. If you've enjoying baking, reduce sugar intake late into the evening, as sugar-rich foods can make it hard to sleep. Alcohol too can disrupt sleep, making you feel more tired the next day. If you’re hungry late into the evening, foods with plenty of magnesium  like nuts and seeds can aid sleep.

Because caffeine is a known stimulant, it’s best to limit caffeine intake to earlier in your day and try herbal teas instead.

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4. Create a sleep sanctuary

As it’s natural to reflect before sleep, one way to head to bed in a calmer frame of mind is not to watch the news or check social media updates at bedtime. Strive to keep perspective and remember what you’re grateful for. When thinking about coping strategies, it’s best to concentrate on what you can control now.

Ideally, everything you do after the early evening, should be geared towards activities that bring you peace, whether it’s yoga, reading calming books or taking warm baths and showers with products containing relaxation-promoting herbs like lavender. Start to dim lights and limit interruptions to let you thrive in a bedroom that’s an oasis of relaxation.

Create a tech cut-off time. Apart from the distraction of texts, alerts, news and Netflix coming through our devices, screens omit blue light that disrupts the natural circadian rhythms helping us fall asleep, and so our ability to catch up on any sleep debt acquired.

Bedroom décor itself should be restful. For instance, rely on gentler light from standing lamps instead of typical ceiling lights to help maintain circadian function.

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5. Listen to guided meditations and calming sounds just before bedtime

A relaxation or meditation routine shortly before bed facilitates your entry into a night-time of disengagement from your concerns, bringing calm and peaceful rest.  

There’s a broad choice of guided meditations and tranquil music, or even simple breathing exercises to help you drift off to sleep soothed by calming voices and sounds drawing upon the centuries-old traditions of meditation.  

And meditative techniques are always evolving. A new Meditative Story created with Thrive Global sees ecologist, Carl Safina, discussing the craving for connection that unites people and nature. These are stories, embedding music and meditation prompts into their storylines, making them a route into mindfulness practice and relaxation.

(Olena Hromova / Shutterstock.com)

DAPHNE KASRIEL ALEXANDER, EDITOR IN CHIEF
Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.