The ongoing lockdown has turned life upside-down in many ways. One of the biggest effect it’s had on us is directly linked to our sleep cycle.
The notion of not having to wake up early, spend hours getting ready, and beat the traffic simply means one thing — you get to snooze. Still, in your pyjamas with your out-of-bed look, you jump into a conference call at 10:00 am, reply to some emails and head back to sleep again. At this rate, you find it hard to manage the sleep cycle.
As you embrace this new lifestyle and a new routine, you’ll find that your body clock is all messed up. You remain awake and energetic even past midnight or find yourself waking up before sunrise because you decided to sleep at 7:00 pm. Whatever the situation is, you need to get back on track and not let yourself drift away from the ‘healthy’ work-life-balance lifestyle you used to religiously stand by.
Whether you’ve lost weight or put on some unknowingly (lack of sleep affects your metabolism rate), suffer from anxiety attacks or hyperactivity, or simply worrying too much — the answer to all of these and more is sleep. Once you’ve adjusted that circadian rhythm and tune your system back in line, you’ll find yourself spending more quality time at home in great spirits.
Here’s a list of 10 tips to help you sleep better.
Design a routine
You know yourself better than anyone else, so we don’t have to tell you how to create your own daily routine. But it’s important to set the same time on your alarm each morning and fix your bedtime. Try to stick to a sleep window of seven to eight hours, no more or less, even during weekends. Creating a structure or system is a healthy way of giving you a sense of being in control as well.
Working out before bedtime increases endorphins and adrenaline levels, making it difficult for you to relax pre-sleep. Get your dose of HIIT or any of these home workouts early in the day or in the evening at least three hours before going to bed.
Get as much daylight
Exposing yourself to as much daylight as possible throughout the day is as important as taking your daily supplements. Not only will you be getting your daily shot of vitamin D, but exposure to environmental light also helps the body recognise daytime and associate night time with sleep. This continuously contributes to a consistent circadian rhythm or better known as your ‘body clock’.
No matter the implications, many of us rely on coffee to fuel through the day. Caffeine in coffee, as well as certain types of tea, triggers the release of adrenaline while blocking the effects of feeling tired. But too much is never good. Caffeinated drinks are best to be taken in the morning and should be avoided after lunch.
Create the ambience
If you’ve already turned your living space a makeover, it’s time to focus on sprucing up your bedroom. But the first rule is to never turn your bedroom into a working space. You can do up your bedroom to whatever style desired but have blackout curtains to block the light, scented diffusers or candles for calming effects, and breathable sheets to help you achieve a good night’s sleep.
Stow all electronics
We know it’s hard to put down the phone, especially when you’re flooded with social media notifications all night long. Make it a point to stop and stow all electronics away. Instead, put on some relaxing music, read a book or perform a beauty ritual while you relax your body and mind before sleep.
Late-night bingeing or going to bed right after a full meal can not only disrupt sleep cycle but causes heartburn and weight gain. Additionally, going to bed hungry can also disturb your sleep. Strike a fine line by watching your eating habits and have healthy snacks ready in the fridge in case of emergencies — never over-indulge.
The most ideal temperature that helps induce sleep is 23C. You can set the air conditioning in your bedroom an hour before bedtime and walk into a conducive space that allows you to fall asleep in no time. Keep your heart rate low by avoiding strenuous physical activity like house chores as you continue to stay calm and relaxed before bed.
Are apps useful?
While some of you are a fan of sleep-tracking apps and devices, it is more important for you to figure things out the natural way. Listen to your body and let your feelings guide you. Using apps can potentially increase your anxiety about sleep, causing more harm than good, especially if you’re already having an OCD-like behaviour.
We’re not asking you to stop drinking but even the smallest amount of alcohol can actually disrupt your sleep cycle. When sugar breaks down rapidly after alcohol consumption, you’ll find it hard to go into a deep sleep, which is when you get all the restorative benefits. If you’re suffering from with insomnia, try cutting down any alcohol intake to restore your sleeping pattern.
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur.