The pressures of lockdown, the dark winter weather and increasing uncertainty about the new variants of Covid have haunted the start of 2021. Normally, the first two months of a year are full of optimism and new years resolutions, but I know I am not alone in finding the current isolation much harder than the previous lockdowns. It is important in situations like this to take time for self-care. For me, the easiest way to reduce stress and increase energy is to get enough sleep. One of the silver linings of lockdown has been that it has given me the chance to focus on getting enough sleep and unlike other wellness activities such as running or Pilates, getting a good night’s sleep is free and is not dependent on good weather.
A good night’s sleep is beneficial for everyone. Young people are reliant on sleep to help their developing memory and a prolonged period of broken sleep can make pupils struggle to remember what they have learned. Meanwhile, adults will find that getting enough rest will reduce stress and increase patience throughout the day.
Not everyone can get a good night’s sleep, long shift patterns and noisy neighbours mean that it is not always easy for everyone to get the rest that they deserve. However, I hope that my top three sleep tips will help you to feel refreshed and ready each morning.
A US Study found that students with irregular sleep patterns get lower academic grades. This is because sleepiness reduces concentration and damages the brain’s capacity to remember details. The best way to get control of your sleeping pattern is to go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at roughly the same time each morning and avoid napping if possible. If your lifestyle allows it, I recommend giving yourself a fixed bedtime and waking up time.
It can be tempting to stay inside all the time during lockdown – especially when the weather is cold. However, moderate exercise such as a walk or short jog can help make sure that you feel tired when bedtime comes. Even an indoor activity such as press-ups or dancing to your favourite songs can be enough to make your body realise that it needs rest.
Bedtime can be frustrating for many people. If you don’t sleep, you will get more stressed; if you are feeling very stressed, you might struggle to sleep. This cruel cycle is particularly irritating during the lockdown, when many people are feeling anxious about the future. One way to reduce negative thoughts at night is to regulate your breathing. A useful strategy is sama vritti, a south Asian technique which encourages relaxation. To try this breathing exercise, lie on your back and breath in deeply through your nose for six seconds and then out through your mouth for six seconds. Concentrating on counting the breaths for five minutes can help you to ignore the worries of the day.
Lastly, if anyone in your family has been struggling to sleep for a prolonged period, do not hesitate to call a GP who will be able to offer professional advice.
This blog was written by Samuel Heaton, our English GCSE and A level Tutor. Sam is a English graduate of Durham University, & a QTS Teacher with a P.G.C.E. from Manchester University.
Keywords: sleep, exercise, breathing exercises, sleep routine, reduce stress
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio