Sleep During Lockdown - a Reflection
Pre-Corona, I used to be a morning person. I would wake up before my alarm, roll out of bed within a few minutes and hit the gym for an early a.m. training or pull my laptop close and start working straight away. I work from home so there was no pesky commute anyway.
When lockdown happened, I thought nothing much would change. I could still work from home, I still had to run my business, I kept exercising and heading outdoors for fresh air and a change of scenery daily. But oh, how wrong I was. With my hubby also working from home suddenly and a hugely decreased social calendar, we started staying up later to get through our Netflix Watchlist after ‘work’, sometimes still grafting until too late because there was no work-life divide and then rolling out of bed too late too – no commute or many meetings to rush in for, meant leisurely starts and pretty much no routine.
During those first few weeks of lockdown, my head felt heavy and foggy, and my energy levels were fairly low. I did some research into this phenomenon (because it is a phenomenon, loads of folks went through the same changes) and discovered that I might be experiencing a physiological lack of motivation, like a burnout hangover.
Sleep psychologist Hope Bastine puts it like this: “Our city lives are insanely busy. We are over stressed, over-anxious and over stimulated, so this lockdown period, if we use it right, is actually a chance to catch our breath and press the reset button. But you don’t realise that you are in distress until you actually stop, because your body has been on uber adrenaline mode".
So maybe my body was telling me that I needed this time to rest, recover and restore.
At the same time, Coronavirus has been a serious attack on the nervous system – and constant anxiety and fear around the situation meant our sleep quality was impacted with not as much deep sleep and we weren’t getting enough sleep, lying awake fretting about the implications of the situation.
Being a great lover of sleep, and needing a solid seven hours nightly to feel human, I tweaked a few things which really helped with my sleep (and the fogginess that came with it) – so sharing them here as maybe this will help you too:
- I put a routine / structure in place again for my day, with more consistent mealtimes, exercise times and a hard-close for work times.
- I created a sleep schedule, waking up and going to bed at similar times every day, so my body knew when to wind down and perk up
- I steered clear of social media and news more, as it was upsetting me and keeping my brain far too active.
- And made sure to keep interacting with friends and family (yup, mostly virtually) as much as possible, because loneliness can lead to trouble with sleep.
I have found it interesting to see that, as we near the end of lockdown, start going back to a new normal and the distancing measures are eased, my sleep has improved accordingly. Coincidence, I think not.
Written by Nina Clark, Nightire founder