With 2021 kicking off with the nightmare that is lockdown 3.0, it is inevitable that sleep cycles will be disrupted, with feelings of anxiousness keeping the nation awake at night. When people feel anxious and/or stressed it is harder to fall asleep peacefully, and when they are able to drift off, the quality of sleep throughout the night is still largely affected.
In fact, studies show that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the nation’s sleep with the number of Britons suffering sleep loss caused by worrying rising from one in six to one in four as a direct result of the huge disruption to people’s social and working lives. What’s more, the number of men experiencing poor sleep rose from 11.9% to 16.5%, and the increase among women shot up from 18.9% to 31.8%. Sleeplessness doubled from 19.5% to 40% amongst mothers of children aged 0 to 4 and rose almost as dramatically – from 21.7% to 38% – for those with children aged 5 to 18.**
Here, Silentnight’s sleep expert, Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan shares her top tips to destress, improve mental wellbeing, increase energy levels and set aside bedtime blues for a healthier night’s sleep in 2021.
Take technology breaks
“An effective habit to crack when settling down for the evening is stopping the ongoing scrolling of your mobile phone or tablet. The blue light that is emitted from the screens, suppresses melatonin, a hormone that dictates your sleep pattern. Taking regular breaks from technology, especially before bedtime, can help maintain that important sleep pattern throughout the night – especially when much of the news agenda is so unsettling.”
“Caffeine is a stimulant that promotes alertness, which is perfect for first thing in the morning, but detrimental at night when you’re trying to drift off. Try to avoid drinking caffeinated drinks after 2pm, this will allow enough time for the caffeine to leave your system before bedtime. It also increases your cortisol (stress hormone) levels, so avoid caffeine if you’re feeling particular stressed as this will encourage your levels to go up rather than reduce them.”
“Breakfast is the most important meal, as it sets you up for the day, however it also helps you at night as well. Breakfast helps to regulate our melatonin production – the hormone we need for a good night’s rest. Make sure you pick a breakfast dish that is rich with sleep boosting foods, such as seeds, nuts, whole grains, yoghurt and fruits – bananas and oranges in particular. All of these food items contain nutrients that enhance the production of the hormone, allowing your sleep routine to benefit.”
Take regular breaks through the day
“Our energy levels run on 90-minute cycles, so it’s very important to take a break every 60 – 90 minutes. These breaks can simply involve leaving your desk for 5 minutes to take a walk, reading a book or making a cup of tea. Taking these little snippets of ‘me time’, especially when you’re working from home, allows you chance to take a breather and re-focus your mind.”
“Sleep is incredibly important for the nation’s overall health and wellbeing, and whilst the current pandemic isn’t a factor we can change ourselves, our sleep pattern is. Creating a healthier sleep routine and changing habits should allow for a better, rejuvenating night’s rest throughout 2021.”