We are all currently living through an extraordinary time where the frontline doctors, healthcare professionals and key-workers are all working incredibly hard to keep us alive.
As of today, the pandemic has affected our daily routines, jobs, and businesses, causing both economic hardships and emotional strain. The fear and panic surrounding the virus in addition to the social distancing norms are impacting the behavioural health of people in some form or another.
For instance, many people are finding that their sleep is disrupted right now, or that they are feeling sluggish and tired during the day, even though they are sleeping well at night.
Like many, during these uncertain times, you might also be experiencing some changes with your sleep pattern as well. If so, we at TABIIB would like to help you understand how you could improve your sleep pattern and get through these stressful times better.
What Is Sleep?
Sleep forms part of a natural rhythm of life. It is controlled by our circadian rhythm, which is our internal 24-hour clock. This helps us be alert during the day and sleepy at night. It is usually regulated by daily cues such as exposure to daylight when we eat our meals when we exercise and other daily schedules.
Our sleep cycle is regulated by two systems in the body: sleep/wake homeostasis and the circadian,
1. Homeostasis tells our bodies when a need for sleep is building. There is no set amount of sleep for everyone, and different people need a different amount of sleep at different stages of their lives
2.Circadian regulates the timing of sleepiness and wakefulness, and this phenomenon is controlled by a group of brain cells that respond to light and dark.
When we stay indoors for a long period of time, we lose many of these cues. For example, in the current situation, due to social distancing and isolation, we may not go outside to get daylight, making our circadian rhythmless and robust. In addition to that, due to COVID-19, many may experience mental health issues which could also lead to symptoms such as insomnia (not sleeping well) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
Importance Of Sleep:
Sleep is a vital component of good health; it helps both your body and mind to function at their optimal level during the day.
- Maintain hormone levels: Sleep can improve your physical health by maintaining hormone levels that make you hungry, support growth and development and repair your muscles.
- Improve brain function: Similarly, a good night’s sleep can improve your brain function and allow you to pay attention, make decisions, learn quickly and be creative.
Chronic Sleep Deprivation
Interesting TRIVIA: As we age, the amount of sleep your body’s needs changes. For example, a newborn baby sleeps 16- 18 hours per day. Whereas an adult should get about 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Did you know that people can develop a sort of tolerance to chronic sleep deprivation? Even though their brains and bodies struggle due to lack of sleep, they may not be aware of their own deficiencies because less sleep feels normal to them.
What Happens When You Don’t Sleep Enough
Sleep deprivation can lead to various health problems. Studies link lack of sleep to various medical conditions including obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, poor mental health, and early death.
7 Tips To Improve Your Sleep
Your life may feel busy all the time, and perhaps your current sleeping habits, arrangements and quality are less than ideal, but there’s hope!
Here are a few steps you could follow to consciously improve your sleeping experience.
1.Create a relaxing evening ritual:
Do things that relax you to create a pre-sleep routine to remove some of your daily stress. Overtime, a routine may act as a signal within your brain that it’s time to sleep. Use common favourites like a warm bath or massage or try other calming activities like meditating, breathing exercises or listening to soothing music as you wind down.
2.Stick with a routine that includes a predictable sleep schedule:
Keep your meals, bedtime and morning alarm consistent, even on weekends. Maintaining your sleep patterns conditions your body to expect and react accordingly to appropriate times of rest and wakefulness.
3.Remove electronics from your bedroom:
Screens and electronics are an integral part of our daily lives. The activities associated with them, the light they emit, and the stimulus they provide, make televisions, computers, tablets, phones and other digital items a major hindrance to sleep. Try to unplug at least an hour before bed and keep electronics out of the bedroom.
4.Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark.
Removing light, sound and keeping your space at a constant temperature to mimic your ideal sleeping conditions. If needed, consider carpeting to cancel noise, installing light-blocking blinds or use an eye mask to restrict visual distractions.
5.Steer clear of caffeine and alcohol:
In the hours before bed, especially, but also throughout the day, be mindful of your caffeine intake. While some people can enjoy a morning cup of coffee without repercussions, others may find the effects of caffeine linger well into the evening. Remember that coffee and tea aren’t the only caffeine-laden beverages: many soft drinks, chocolate, common medications and herbal remedies also contain caffeine.
A well-known stress-reliever, people who exercise regularly (30-60 minutes, three times weekly) also have better quality, deeper sleep, and are, overall, healthier. Exercise also combats obesity, a major risk factor in lack of sleep, sleep apnea, insomnia and daytime sleepiness. Of course, exercise is a natural energy-booster as well, so be sure to get in that workout at least a few hours before bedtime. Cut out napping.
7.Avoid going to bed on a full or empty – stomach:
Balanced, healthy meals during the day will help keep your body and blood sugars balanced for optimal sleep. Try to keep meals scheduled and don’t eat large meals right before bedtime. If you’re hungry, have a light, nutritious snack (low-fat dairy or turkey) that won’t sit heavily in your stomach or boost your energy. Avoid consumption of high fat foods like chips, ice cream, or fried foods to increase the likelihood of a good quality sleep.
Getting enough quality sleep may not always be easy, but it should be a health priority. Consult a neurologist on TABIIB website or app to help improve your sleep.