Covid has triggered different issues in our lives and sleep is one of the most fundamental of them. All of us struggle with sleep from time to time – and that is OK, it’s normal – we understand that a different bed, different country, feeling poorly, for example, can make us restless. And that restlessness is because our system is on red alert due to changes in circumstance.
When sleep issues like waking in the night, early waking or sleeping in the day impact our everyday lives leading us to feel anxious, stressed, drowsy or a bit out of control, it is time to act. This cycle of behaviour is absolutely exhausting, so no surprise that sleep deprivation has been used for interrogation purposes for years, it has proved very effective for extracting information - people were literally at the end of their tethers.
So why do some people suffer, and others don’t? People who sleep well generally don’t think about it – they get adequate sleep and feel refreshed in the morning. Frustrating to those who don’t. Sleep relates to the circadian rhythm – your 24-hour body clock. Sunlight acts to reset this rhythm: humans are programmed to feel active during the day and sleep at night. A good night’s sleep is essential if we are going to be at our best the next day.
As it starts getting dark, the chemical melatonin is released by the body which starts the countdown to sleep, this is why we take a while adjusting to clock changes as light is changing. As soon as melatonin is released, we may yawn and start feeling tired as our bodies get ready for bed. If melatonin is inhibited then this can be a real factor in our circadian rhythm faltering and causing us sleepless nights.
So, what can be done about it? How do we take control of our sleep patterns? Back in prehistoric times we didn’t have light pollution or light issues from LED lights or screens that mimic daylight confusing the brain. So, start with avoiding LED screen use such as laptops/tablets/smart phones after 8pm. Think about black out blinds or heavier curtains to keep light out.
Exercise is extremely important and can have a significant circadian phase-shifting effect. This can affect both our sleeping and waking schedules. So exercise during the day has been scientifically proved to aid sleep.
Check your bedroom temperature – keep it cool (think of the temperature cooling in the evenings just as light is dimming giving us another clue to produce melatonin and prepare us for bed) and change bedding from summer to winter.
A combination of Solution focused hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and CBTI (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia) can really make a difference, scientifically proven and the only recommended treatment by the NHS apart from drugs. For more information on how to improve your sleep please do contact me firstname.lastname@example.org 07795547070
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