How the pandemic affects our sleep
Updated: Feb 10, 2021
Anxiety levels during the pandemic have sky rocketed, however, this is not a surprise. There are many reasons anxiety levels could have risen, for example; Social isolation, loss of employment, financial problems, illness, fear of getting infected with coronavirus and the pressures of juggling work and home-schooling all contributed to the trend. However, one of the biggest culprits is the unpredictability of what will happen next. All of a sudden our lives are out of our control, no one knows what will happen next and we all have to trust each other to follow the rules in order to change the current situation. This brings on a great deal of anxiety and worry, and anxiety has a huge effect on our sleep and therefore overall mood.
Anxiety is a part of our everyday life, anxiety is our bodies way to alarm ourselves of danger. However, it can also give off false alarms that can be intense, frequent and in some cases can cause a huge amount of physical pain. When we experience anxiety our body releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This prepares are body for fight or flight mode.
Cortisol and melatonin work oppositely to each other. Cortisol suppresses the melatonin during the day so we have energy to perform our everyday activities and then the melatonin supresses cortisol levels at night to allow our bodies to fall asleep. However, if our cortisol levels are continuously high before you go to bed, (caused by the anxiety) your body won’t be optimising melatonin, therefore, you will struggle to fall asleep.
Adrenaline has a similar effect, when your blood is pumped with adrenaline it ultimately gives you a boost of energy, and when you have no way of releasing this energy from the anxiety you will end up feeling very restless at night.
So this is why the anxiety we are experiencing from all the possible variables that I listed at the start, can prevent our bodies from being able to relax and fall asleep. Therefore, we need to be doing things to reduce the levels of anxiety, use extra measures to relax our mind and bodies and finally, work off some of that adrenaline caused by the stress and anxiety.
There are many ways that you can help yourself, firstly, is the basic one that we all hate to see! Nutrition and exercise. By doing just 30 min of exercise each day you can release the adrenaline and excess energy you have that may keep you up and night, therefore, your body will be better prepared to allow its natural melatonin to work.
Moving onto the diet, try and avoid alcohol, high-fat and high-protein foods. High protein foods like steak and chicken take a long time to break down, which can cause problems at bedtime as your digestion slows down by up to 50% when you sleep. You should also try and avoid cheeses, salami and pepperoni as they contain tyramine, which causes the release of norepinephrine, which may stimulate the brain. For a better night sleep I would recommend you eat complex carbohydrates such as whole-wheat toast or a bowl of oatmeal before bed. These foods will trigger the release of the sleepy hormone serotonin, and they don’t take long to digest.
Secondly use substitute products to help relax your body, and this is where the Sleeping Bag products come in. Each Sleeping Bag product is specially designed to help relax your mind and body for bed. For example, try taking a Sleeping Bag bath or plain magnesium bath before bed. The magnesium will help to relax the body and muscles, and the aroma from the lavender will help to calm the mind.
Finally, I know that this is a hard one, but if possible, try and reduce the amount of stress in your everyday lives. You should try and think to yourself, are these factors causing you to stress actually worth it? (No, this does not include your children).
Other things you can do to help you sleep; Reading, avoiding blue light before bed (electronics), get as much fresh air as you can during the day, stay away from caffeine in the afternoon, try to sleep and wake at the same time everyday (pattern), keep your bedroom at a constant temperature (18-24C), take a short evening walk, exercise regularly (but don’t overdo it), keep your bedroom dark when you sleep, avoid horror movies before bed, ensure your bedroom environment is quiet, have a warm (non-caffeinated) drink before bed, regulate the air in your bedroom, meditation, keep a notebook by your bed to get things off your mind that may cause anxiety or worry during the night, breathing exercises, keep work out of the bedroom and finally, avoid long naps during the day.
I really hope this helps you understand what is going on with your emotions and body at the moment and feel free to message me if you have any questions!!