Most of us are struggling to sleep given the uncertain times and lockdown issues, with anxiety levels at it’s peak and our internal body clocks or circadian rhythm might be out of whack.
Our body clocks love routine. Our sleep wake cycle, controls hormones that would make us feel attentive during the day or fatigued at night. Routine change can easily disrupt hormones, with an afternoon nap or less day out, clearly our internal body clocks will be confused. Being wide awake when trying to fall asleep or feel sleepy during the day.
Keeping your body clock ticking
- Get into a routine. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day to maintain your circadian rhythm, this includes eating your meals at the same time every day. Even if you’re furloughed at present, it may feel like the best time to stay in your pyjamas all day on a TV binge. After waking up, get dressed and have your breakfast within an hour.
Avoid napping. Many people feel a short power nap will be good for them, sometimes naps disrupt our night time sleep.
Off Caffeine. Everybody has a different tolerance to caffeine but most people will notice better sleep pattern if they steer clear of caffeinated drinks, especially coffee or strong tea, after mid meal.
Get outside sometimes and if you cannot at the moment sit by a window in the sunshine as much as you can.
Try to do at least 20-30 minutes of exercise each day but avoid high intensity workouts after 8pm. If you want to exercise in the evening, opt for relaxing options which maybe less stimulating.
Maintain a cool and dark bedroom at night. Avoid looking at your screens atleast an hour or two before bedtime, as the blue light from such devices disrupts production of melatonin. Melatonin needs to be high at bedtime which helps us fall asleep.
Practices to reduce anxiety can be added to your bedtime routine such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.
A. Limit alcohol, as it may help you get to sleep but it will stimulate the body to wake you up after a few hours.
B. Limit sugary snacks, high sugar diets affect blood sugar levels and are linked to disruption of circadian rhythm.
C. Magnesium is a vital mineral needed for plenty of processes in the body including helping our nervous system to relax and rest besides plays an important role in the circadian rhythm. Magnesium food sources would be green leafy vegetables -spinach and kale, fruit -figs, avocado, banana and raspberries, nuts and seeds, legumes – black beans, chickpeas and kidney beans and vegetables – peas, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, artichokes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts.
- Opt for foods high in the amino acid tryptophan with your evening meal with turkey, eggs, tofu and pumpkin seeds. Tryptophan is what the body uses to make the sleep hormone melatonin, high amounts of melatonin can help in better sleep.
Try to have your meals at regular times each day and ideally have your evening meal by 7pm. Or atleast 3 hours prior to sleep.
Green tea, although containing some caffeine, is also high in the amino acid theanine, which can aid sleep and promote relaxation.
Yoga & Breathing
Alternate nose breathing exercise: Nasal breathing reduces anxiety and aid sleep and may even lower your heart rate. Try this easy exercise before bed.
● Sit at the edge of your bed with your legs crossed
● Breathe in your left nostril for 5 seconds and gently block the right one by pressing your finger against it
● When you exhale, release your finger and then begin to breathe in through the right nostril, blocking the left nostril
● Do this for 5 minutes, begin and end with your left nostril