With studies showing an increase in Brits suffering sleep
loss caused by worry during the initial wave of the pandemic, some even showing it rising from one in six, to one in four, poor sleep became such a common complaint during Covid a term for this was coined. Say hello to “coronasomnia”. With loss of sleep being no surprise given the stress and anxiety of lockdown, and an increase in uncertainties and health issues, there’s been a wealth of research conducted into the phenomenon of “coronasomnia”, all coming to an array of conclusions, but key outtakes show some clear patterns. So, Kathryn Pinkham, founder of The Insomnia Clinic
, one of the UK’s only specialist insomnia services, is here to discuss her thoughts on why this might be. Kathryn says, “Broken routine plays a huge part in contributing to the issue. While many of us once had a set routine and clear divide between work and home-life, set get-up times and stricter bedtimes, the pandemic has caused our lives to become more fluid. All this change in routine has caused our circadian rhythms to become disjointed and out of sync, which of course plays a bit part in contributing to poor sleep.” She continues, “Life has also become far less varied. Yes, routines are returning more to normal, but everything is still not quite the same as it once was. For example, while schools are back in-person and leisure venues, such as cinemas, are open once again, many events are still being held virtually and many people have remained working from home. We need variation in our lives to keep us stimulated, and the current nature of life doesn’t offer us quite the same level of stimulation. This, again, can contribute to poor sleep.” Last, Kathryn says, “Just like normal insomnia, “coronasomnia” can become a vicious circle. We can perpetuate patterns that contribute to poor sleep, and this can leave us feeling run down and low, which can in turn make us more susceptible to picking up viruses. What’s more, the stress caused by the pandemic has reportedly resulted in us drinking more as a nation. Drinking alcohol can also contribute to poor sleep, and again cause us to be more likely to develop irregular sleeping patterns and insomnia.” So, it’s no surprise many of us have found our sleep suffering since the pandemic. However, the important thing is not to panic. There are steps you can take to get your sleep back on track, and Kathryn is here to help. Kathryn’s top tips for improving your sleep.
- Get back in a routine – To resume a routine, even if you’ve sleep badly, you should still get up nice and early. This will help you to build an ‘appetite’ for sleep, helping you get a better night’s sleep the next night. Setting an alarm will help you get your structure back on track, which in turn will help you sleep well by ensuring you have a strong sleep drive.
- Get your work-life balance back – If you’re still working from home, make sure you have an end time to your working day and take an action to signify this. For example, go for a walk or do some exercise when your working day ends. Usually, a commute would work for this, but you need to find a way to help your body and mind distinguish the end of work and the start of your ‘me-time’.
- Get up if you can’t sleep – If you’re struggling to sleep, get up! This will help to avoid building a negative link with bed and sleep. If you can’t drift back off to sleep when you wake, simply get up and go to another room, read a book or do something you enjoy, and then when you’re feeling sleepy again, head back to bed.
- Manage anxiety – Anxiety is exhausting, so if you’re feeling tired it’s important to note that it is not just lack of sleep which makes us tired and affects our daytime functioning, but also our negative thoughts about lack of sleep and stress in general. I advise you to spend time writing down your negative thoughts, challenging them, then letting them go. Worrying about sleep won’t improve it but it will make you feel worse. If you wake up and begin your day with a negative sleep thought such as ‘the day is going to be miserable because I did not sleep well’, it is the combination of sleep loss and negative mood from this thought that then negatively impacts your daytime functioning.
- Don’t stress – Practicing relaxation techniques and mindfulness during the daytime will help you learn to regularly rest your mind and help combat stress. Using this time to relax and spend some time on yourself will help you to feel more refreshed, even if you are struggling to sleep well.
If you’re struggling with your sleep, why not try The Insomnia Clinic’s Sleep Well, Live Better Course? Teaching you how to fall asleep easily and sleep through the night, many people see improvements in just a few days. Providing simple information and a step-by-step process to fix your sleep, the course will clearly guide you through the simple steps to improve your sleep, including everything you would receive in face-to-face sessions. Plus, Kathryn is there to provide ongoing support throughout the entire programme. LINK: https://www.theinsomniaclinic.co.uk/online-course