For many people, this time in quarantine can be stressful and sleep may be affected. During stressful times, people tend to either sleep more than usual or are affected by insomnia.
Life, as we have known, has drastically changed for many of us, and this means our daily routine has also been turned upside down. Work, mealtimes, and the time spent outside have been altered because of self-isolation.
With these changes, our circadian rhythm can be put out of time. The circadian rhythm is an internal “clock” that plays a key role in regulating our sleep pattern. It controls body temperature and hormones, which help us to feel alert during the day and more tired at night.
Two of the most powerful forces to keep the circadian rhythm in order are natural light and regular mealtimes, but for many of us, these have been altered due to the lockdown. Many people are reporting sleep issues during this time including trouble falling asleep and waking up multiple times in the night.
Stress hormones, such as cortisol, can also be adding to sleep problems. Normally, cortisol helps to regular our sleep-wake cycle, as it normally drops in the evening, reaching its lowest level at midnight. But if these levels are too high before bedtime, it could result in sleep loss.
Some people are experiencing the opposite effect as they are catching up on lost hours. This may sound good, but in fact, this so-called “sleep-debt” of not getting enough sleep, then catching up at a later date may lead to mental and physical fatigue. Sleep debt, also known as sleep deprivation, is associated with declines in memory, performance, and immunity, which is essential in toady’s world.
Reset Your Circadian Rhythm
If you are suffering from sleep problems during this time of lockdown, there are some changes you can make to help reset your circadian rhythm. Establishing a new routine is important to help set sleep schedules back to normal. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help set your internal clock. Also, eating meals at the same time will not only help with your sleep cycle, but it can also benefit your mental health.
Working from home has become normal daily life for many as offices are closed around the world. But working in your bedroom is a bad idea if you are having sleep issues. It is important to associate your bedroom as the place you go to sleep, not the place for tv or work. Electronic devices can emit artificial light that can influence your sleep cycle. So, if you are suffering from sleep problems, remove all electronic devices from the bedroom and make the room as cool, dark, and quiet as possible.
Be sure to get outside and get enough exercise during the day, as studies show how important this is for not only those dealing with sleep problems, but it is essential for everyone. Exposure to both natural light and dark during this time will help to keep circadian rhythms in balance. Also, be sure to keep caffeine to a minimum and try to consume any caffeinated drinks before noon.
With these simple steps, you should see a noticeable difference in your sleep. This is a stressful time for everyone, and if you are having trouble sleeping, try not to worry about it too much. Simply make some slight lifestyle changes, and you will see that a healthier approach to life can help with both physical and mental health.