Healthy sleep

All the worry from coronavirus means that lots of people are having trouble sleeping. There are some steps that can improve your sleep, leaving you better able to face the challenges of the day.

There is lots of scientific evidence to support what we already know, in our hearts. When we sleep badly the next day our levels of anxiety are higher, our mood and energy are lower. It becomes much harder to deal with coping through coronavirus if you are not getting enough sleep.

Over a longer time, a continuing lack of sleep can affect your whole body – from your mental wellbeing to your physical health. For children and young people , poor sleep can be linked to obesity, mental health issues and difficulty learning.

There are things you can do to help you get enough quality sleep. Setting healthy bedtime routines is good for the whole family. And when we’re rested, we’re better able to cope with all the practical and emotional demands we are facing at the moment – including from our children.

The importance of sleep

If the benefits of sleep were sold as a new ‘miracle cure’, people would probably pay good money for it. 

Good sleep can ward off colds, make you more creative, feel less depressed, less anxious and happier.

Now more than ever it is crucial to get the sleep your body needs.

Advice to help you sleep better

 

  • Just like with children, sleeping at a regular time each night helps your body most. So even if you don’t have to stick to your normal routine at the moment, go to bed and get up at same time each day.
  • Create a peaceful, sleep-only space: consider the light, the noise, the comfort of your bed.
  • Cut down on screens before bedtime. This doesn’t just apply to children: the screen
    light and stimulation make it hard for adults to switch off too.
  • Do things that will help you relax and wind down. Aim for some quiet and calm time before you get into bed: read a book, have a bath or a warm drink. If you find your mind racing when you get to bed, try writing things down.
  • Cut down on alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol results in poorer sleep and tiredness the next day. Caffeine stays in our bodies for hours, so it can keep us awake if we drink it later in the day. It helps to have your last cup earlier in the day.
  • Make sure you are taking daily exercise. If you are now staying home all day it is really important to remember get out of the house, as long as you maintain social distancing. Evidence shows that regular exercise improves our quality of sleep.
  • Don’t eat just before bed. Try to have 2-3 hours between eating a meal and bedtime. Don’t go to bed hungry though: have a light snack but not cakes and chocolate, try a banana, or oats.
  • Keep the temperature in your room controlled. Take your cue from Goldilocks: not too hot, not too cool, but just right!
  • If you can’t sleep, get up. Some studies suggest that if you are awake for more than 20 minutes then you should get out of bed. Read a book or do something relaxing until you feel more ready to sleep.