Covid Stole My Sleep!

As the lockdown progressed, my sleep cycle regressed.

While many complained of bizarrely vivid dreams, my new normal was awake at 4am, barely catching 5 hours of sleep a night, an open invitation to several unavoidable problems. Hello, migraines… and lethargy… and body-ache… and worst of all, acne! 

The common foe has put our entire world in a coronavirus fix. Staying indoors, in an unending lockdown, lost & down, I quickly lost sense of day and time. Is it Wednesday or Sunday? Do weekends never end now? My body clock is crocked!

I needed to fix this new routine right away, before the new normal becomes the forever normal! So I began researching for tools and techniques to reset my sleep patterns. While the internet is full of tips & tricks for this, I focused on the ones that would work for me and could become a routine. 

The shift from an unhealthy sleep cycle to a healthy one cannot happen overnight (excuse the pun). I try to be consistent by using at least 3 of the methods I’ve chosen everyday.

2 weeks of testing down and my sleep cycle is slowly getting back on track. I’m now catching about 6 hours on the good days and can already feel the difference in my energy. My aim is to catch 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night and be asleep by 1am (I am a night owl, after all!)

I’d love to share the tools that help me discipline my sleep pattern with you. So read on!

1. A daily night time routine

A set routine done at a fixed time everyday sneakily tricks the mind into thinking it’s time for bed. Sleep scientist Cheri Mah, M.S., M.D. suggests prioritizing a wind-down routine before your target bedtime to prepare your body to sleep. For myself, I chose to devise an elaborate skin care routine. It does the trick while also helping me unwind from my day. Also, my skin loves it and it shows!

2. Applying lavender oil on the soles of my feet

Over the years, I understood that my olfactory senses have a huge effect on the state of my mind. Hence, the first thing I researched was the use of aroma for better sleep. There are several essential oils that help calm your mind, setting a comfortable mood for you to fall asleep.

I opted for Lavender essence – It’s known to have sedative effects, while soothing your mind. It also helps reduce anxiety, a common emotional state for many right now. I rub a drop or two directly on my feet, temple, wrists and sometimes on my pillow or eye mask 15 minutes before bed.

If you’d like to try this, here is a quick way to  know more on how to use essential oils for relaxation & better sleep. Most chemists have essential oils so you shouldn’t have a problem getting hold of some during the lockdown!

You can even take the aromatherapy up a notch with a self foot massage! Here is a great follow along tutorial that I’m all set to test…

3. Snuggling in with a book

I’m currently reading The Familiars by Stacey Halls. Reading junkies will be familiar with the common ‘quick read before bed’ that goes on for hours! So I aim to read for 30 minutes, an hour ahead of bedtime and then do my final routine right before I try to sleep. Experts say by immersing yourself in a good book, you can take your mind off your current situation and in turn, allow it to wind down. Your muscles involuntarily relax and your breathing slows down, leaving you feeling calmer.

Fact, fiction or pure trash – the contents of your book aren’t important – All that matters is that it interests you!

Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

4. The phone goes into nightly lockdown too!

Smart phones can entertain us and provide us with endless information. But when it’s time to turn off the lights, I don’t need either! I have lost HOURS mindlessly scrolling through social media not knowing when to stop, delaying my sleep time by a mile. (Hands up if you’re guilty)

I stop checking my apps at least an hour before I go to bed. Sorry, Instagram but see ya later… (but let’s have coffee in the morning!)

Also, the light from your phone can confuse your brain, messing with your sleep pattern. Don’t believe me? Check out this.  

Did you know you can change the display setting on your phone to Night mode? Night mode switches the phone to yellow light in android phones and in dark mode on iPhones to reduce the strain on your eyes. You can change your phone setting like this (iPhones) and this (Androids)

5. Tuning in to sleep apps

In the words of Paul, John, Ringo & George – I get by with a little help from my friends!

Meet my friends, Calm & Let’s Meditate… They have been sending me to bed each night with virtual guided sessions that free my mind of troubling thoughts, enable me to let go of stress and help knock me out.

Calm also has pre-recorded story narration sessions – a bit like your mom reading you a bedtime story – only here your mum is Matthew McConaughey!

6. Always keep track! 

Making a note of my sleep pattern helps me understand if the above tools are actually working.

It tricks my mind into taking this problem more seriously. I started logging the time I went to sleep and woke up and how long I slept.

Like any goal, it should be SMART and this is a sure way to make it measurable.

Here’s a nice free template to start your own sleep diary.

7. The small details…

These are not my regular picks, but here are a few other tricks that also help me relax into a good stretch of sleep.

  • No caffeine post 6pm 
  • No eating in the 2 hours before bed.
  • Change into clean, comfortable clothes
  • Make your bed and sleep on clean sheets and pillow 
  • Set the right temperature in your room & switch off all bright lights.
  • A light stretch. Follow these simple restorative poses by our team at The Space.

Are any of you experiencing sleep issues during this lockdown? I hope some of my tools help you. Leave me a comment below with your experience and do share any tips you may have for me!

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