Sleep in the time of lockdown

How are you doing today? A perfectly normal question but the answer can’t be taken for granted in these times. So let’s check in.

Things that have kept me going this week: good friends; being outside; pilates online (thank you Abby Taylor Pilates!); my homeopath (thank you Len Marlow!); and the long weekend, because I get a little time to myself.

Things that have been trying: a little boy who has had enough and wants to see his friends and family (not on Zoom but in real life); feeling unsettled by the uncertainty of England’s plan for the foreseeable future.

How are you dealing with lockdown? What strategies are working for you? And what is making you unsettled or stressed or anxious? There are a lot of potential stresses here: loneliness, trying to manage homeschooling and a job, worry about finances, fear about the disease for yourself or your family, lack of control, having to make difficult choices. You may be managing ok, but a lot of people are finding these things weighing on their minds. And I have noticed recently that people’s sleep is one way in which they are being affected.

As quite a light sleeper myself, I know that lack of sleep can be very debilitating, making it much harder to get through the day, and magnifying worries. Sleep is also really important for regeneration and repair of the body and enables the immune system to work at its best. So, I would like to offer a few tips that I hope will help you have a good night’s sleep.

  1. Keep regular hours. Lockdown may have thrown you off-track here. Maybe you’ve been staying up late because suddenly you can or because you’ve got no structure to your day. Decide when you want to get up and plan your bedtime accordingly – most people need 7-8 hours sleep a night.
  2. Plan a schedule, or at least decide on a structure to your day. It is all too easy, especially if self-employed or currently not working, to let the day meander past. But, feeling like you’ve achieved something (however small) with each day can make you feel so much better about yourself. Also, working at home can blur your normal boundaries so try to make a clear divide between your work and downtime and not let work creep into all hours of your day. Daytime structure really helps with nighttime sleep.
  3. Allow yourself wind-down time. Don’t work or do jobs too late into the evening because your mind will be too active to have a good night’s sleep. And, as any sleep expert will tell you, turn off your screens well before the time you actually want to be asleep (at the very least an hour before bed). The blue light from these devices actually suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that is crucially important for regulating sleep.
  4. Do your thinking well before bed-time. One of the main things that keeps us awake at night, or stops us falling back to sleep if we wake in the early hours, is thinking about things that are worrying, decisions that need making, or planning for future events and possibilities. Something that really helps me with sleep, is to allow myself time to think about these things during the day and to talk to someone about them if you find that helpful. Allowing ourselves time to think and make plans can help us overcome problems and feel more in control of our circumstances. That means these things are less likely to be niggling us while we are trying to sleep.
  5. Exercise. It tires you out properly. Enough said!
  6. Get into the light. If you’ve been stuck indoors a lot with lockdown you may have been missing out on sunlight and vitamin D. You may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement (see my previous post: My Top Immune Boosting Strategies), but also try to get outside more if you are able. Sunlight can really help regulate your circadian rhythm which in turn regulates sleep.
  7. Moderate alcohol intake. Recent news reports suggest that people may be drinking more in lockdown. I think we can all understand why that might happen but it won’t help sleep. Alcohol can reduce the amount of restorative REM sleep you have, and the sugar in alcohol can also cause you to wake in the night.
  8. Find your caffeine level. Some people seem hardly affected by caffeine while others can barely have a sip without trembling and a pounding heart. If your sleep is less than ideal it might be time to reduce caffeine or not have any after 3/4pm. And be aware that it’s not just in coffee, it’s also in tea, green tea, matcha, chocolate (especially dark chocolate), hot chocolate, and many soft drinks.
  9. Homeopathy. There are hundreds of homeopathic remedies listed in our repertories (homeopathic books aligning symptoms with associated remedies) as helping with sleep, depending on the particular pattern of the issue, the underlying cause and the things that make it better or worse for you. A good homeopath will also talk to you in depth about the circumstance or anxiety that is causing your sleep problems and this can help you reframe and gain perspective on your situation.
  10. Remember to be you. At this time it is all too easy to be caught up in the important roles we are playing, as parents, teachers to our children, workers, food providers, supports to our families, etc. It is really important to take just a little time, each day if you can, to remember what makes you tick, what makes you enthusiastic about life, what gives you the energy to return day after day to those roles. If you don’t, the real you will make itself known during the night and find an outlet by keeping you awake. This weekend I am taking a little time to be me: writing, running and some homeopathic learning are all on my personal agenda and I know they will recharge my batteries. I am very lucky to have a good support network, but I also know when to ask for help and time. Try and do the same for yourself.

News from the homeopathic community is that homeopathy continues to prove its’ great worth in this pandemic. A study of 50 Covid-19 patients in Italy found that none required hospitalization, compared to a 20.4% hospitalization rate in Italy generally. Cuba, which introduced a preventative blend of homeopathic remedies for its most vulnerable (see my previous blog: Easter 2020), is doing very well in the fight against the virus (statistics). Homeopath Jeremy Sherr has been collecting and assessing cases of Covid-19 treated with homeopathy from around the world. So far he has looked at 204 cases with these results: very much better 64%; much better 28%; some better 5%; no change 2%. Excellent news!

Wishing you all safe and well, Alice

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