Movement Restriction Order: How to sleep better at night when everything is going wrong
The Movement Control Order at hand means that we are all spending a lot more time at home than we usually do. With no clear boundary between work and personal time, and a lot of uncertainty about the state of the world at the moment, your beauty sleep is bound to suffer.
So, whether you need some tips on calming your nerves, some pointers about your circadian cycle or some sleep-inducing exercises, we've got you covered.
Stick to your regular sleep schedule
This means waking and sleeping at the same time each day and regulating your body clock—don’t take working from home as an excuse to sleep in till midday. Plus, while you’re at it...
... avoid napping
Yes, you’re working from home (and probably from the comfort of your bed) but this is no excuse to nap twice a day! In fact, an afternoon nap is the easiest way to ruin your sleep cycle. Avoid the temptation: Stay awake.
Keep your work out of the bedroom
When working from home, there isn’t a solid boundary between work and personal time, so you have to create it for yourself. Allocating work to one space in your house (that is, not in your bedroom) will ensure that you don’t associate bedtime with work, allowing you to relax and unwind properly. Plus, it’ll stop you from going insane when working from home.
Don’t eat too late (and watch what you eat)
Make sure your supper is done and dusted at least four hours before bedtime so that you have time to digest before you rest. Plus, avoiding super sugary foods and high-carb foods will help you fall asleep faster (and stay asleep). Wash your dinner down with some chamomile tea, the sleepiest of all tea blends.
Take a warm bath or shower before bed
Nothing’s more relaxing than a warm soak in a bubble bath, or a nice warm shower. Plus, it’s scientifically guaranteed to help you fall asleep—it lowers your core body temperature which signals to your body that it's time for bed.
4-7-8 breathing method
This breathing technique is a common practise to reduce stress and calm anxiety because it relaxes the nervous system. So, if the current state of 2020 (a disaster) has got you feeling a little nervy, use this to calm down.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your upper teeth
- Exhale completely through your mouth
- Inhale through your nose for four seconds
- Hold your breath for seven seconds
- Exhale for eight seconds
Progressive muscle relaxation
This is a great way to release tension and is a really common practice in yoga. Start with your eyes closed, and work from the very tip of your toes upwards: Tense every muscle group (progressively) in your body for two to three seconds, then relax them. Inhale when you tense, exhale when you relax.
If you need a little more guidance to relax and unwind, try meditation (you don’t actually have to be sat like that on a beach, you’ll just feel like you are). Clear your head of the worries that have got you tossing and turning—try some mindfulness apps to help you relax, or try this YouTuber’s Guided Sleep Meditation programme.
Even if you don’t believe that essential oils can cure cancer or help reduce fatty liver (they don’t, by the way), you have to admit they smell pretty good. There is, at least, some science to back up the benefits of aromatherapy, relaxation and sleep; because our olfactory senses are wired directly to the part of our brain responsible for memory and emotion, certain scents may help to evoke happy memories and help to calm your nerves and induce sleep.
Here are a few essential oils you can try out to help you get some shut eye—mix them into a diffuser, add a few drops to your nightly bath or mix them with water to make a spray for your bed linens and clothes.
- Lavender: to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality and increase time asleep
- Vanilla: to reduce hyperactivity and restlessness
- Rose: to reduce stress
- Jasmine: to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality
Note: If you’re allergic to essential oils, please don’t do this.
No blue light before bed
Your gadgets emit blue light, which interferes with your sleep by inhibiting the production of your body’s sleep-inducing hormones and throwing your circadian rhythm off balance. Put your phones and any gadgets away at least an hour before bedtime—or, if you must, use blue light filters that either come built-in to your devices or get f.lux for your laptops.
Don’t look at the clock
It’s a slippery slope—the second you check the time, you are resigned to insomnia. Obsessing about how late it is and how little sleep you’ve gotten will do nothing but stress you out further. If you’re struggling to get to sleep, try laying still with your eyes closed; even if you don’t get back to sleep, at least you’ll have gotten some kind of rest.
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