4 Top tips on how to recover your health and sleep during COVID19
Wow, almost two months have passed since we were confined to our homes here in Spain, where I live. But, it looks like things are slowly getting better and finally, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Although I have to admit, being stuck at home for such a long time did take its toll on my body and mind. I am pretty sure I gained a bit of weight (though I am trying to avoid the scales as best as I can), and I got pretty good at the “worry marathon” – usually in the middle of the night.
I don’t know where you are from or where are you living right now, but I assume the last months have had some affect on you too, haven’t they?
And this is why I am sharing my 4 Top tips with you on how to recover your health and sleep after this Coronavirus pandemic.
I recently read a survey done in England. They asked how the lockdown affected people’s health and general wellbeing.
I found it quite interesting, and I have a hunch that people all over the world experience similar symptoms.
Here is what the IES survey found out:
- There has been a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints. More than half of the survey respondents reported new aches and pains, especially in the neck (58 per cent), shoulder (56 per cent) and back (55 per cent), compared to their normal physical condition.
- Diet and exercise are on the wane with one fifth (20 per cent) of respondents admitting to an increase in alcohol consumption, while a third (33 per cent) are eating a less healthy diet, and over half (60 per cent) acknowledging that they are exercising less.
- Poor sleep and increased risk of exhaustion are also cause for concern. The majority of respondents reported a loss of sleep due to worry (64 per cent); and corresponding increased symptoms of fatigue (60 per cent), possibly as a consequence of nearly half (48 per cent) reporting working patterns that include long and irregular hours.
- The mental health of survey respondents depicts a workforce with a lot on its mind. Half of all respondents (50 per cent) reported not being happy with their current work-life balance; a third (33 per cent) frequently feel isolated, over a fifth (21 per cent) are worried about job security, while just under half (41 per cent) harbour health concerns for family members.
Well, that’s not great news is it?
The reason I shared this report with you is to also share with you some ideas on how we, you and me, can improve our physical and mental health and of course sleep.
You know I am a sleep expert, so when I read this survey I clearly saw the vicious cycle of unhealthy habits creeping in during lockdown and resulting in poorer sleep. Not sleeping well leads to bad habits, poor choices in regards to food and exercise, mental issues like anxiety and depression, and so on. Suddenly we are trapped in this very unhealthy cycle. The key is not to neglect or sacrifice sleep.
I am so ready to look ahead, to hopefully soon close the chapter on Coronavirus, and together with everybody else recover our lives, our physical, mental and financial health. In short: enjoy life with family and friends.
Meanwhile, what can we do to leave the COVID 19-Blues behind and sleep well again?
1. Routines, Routines, Routines
This is BIG!
Your biological clock LOVES routines and schedules. After all its a clock, therefore it hates messy schedules. This clock controls your sleep and the quality of it. Just getting 8 hours of sleep is not enough, the right and consistent timing is equally important.
Stick with the following routines, even if you are not on a work or school schedule anymore.
- Wake-Up Time: Set your alarm, no snooze button, just get up. Staying longer in bed will mess up your inner schedule and clock.
- Power Down Hour: Have a good night routine – don’t skip on that one. This is important to help you relax and get your body ready for sleep. It can involve things like light reading (paper books), journaling, stretching, and meditating, along with preparations for bed like putting on pajamas and brushing your teeth. Given the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s wise to give yourself extra wind-down time each night. No screens or devices one hour before going to bed.
- Bedtime: Have a consistent bedtime time. This means you going to bed, turning the lights off, and trying to sleep – NOT laying in bed scrolling through Facebook or Instagram for 2 more hours.
Have routines throughout the day also. This will give your bodyclock cues and in the end, will help you to sleep better.
- Showering and getting dressed even if you aren’t leaving the house.
- Eating meals at the same time each day.
- Blocking off specific time periods for work and exercise.
2. Your bed is just for sleeping.
Even if it might be tempting to work on your laptop in bed, watch tv or do some phone calls, it’s not a good idea. Your brain will learn to associate your bed and bedroom with work, with worries, with stimulation and lots of other things. After some time, you will probably be having a harder time falling asleep since your brain is not too sure anymore what to do when you go to bed. Keep that healthy and strong connection in your brain that bed equals sleep.
3. See the Light
In most countries, we are now allowed to go outside again, even if restricted to certain hours or conditions. My advice: GO OUT! Leave the house. Get as much natural light you can get. Oh, and if you can handle not wearing your sunglasses, even better. I know, they are cool but they are filtering the light which should hit your eyes directly. Can we at least agree on 15 to 30 min without your Ray Ban’s? Your body will appreciate that very much, believe me.
The natural daylight will fortify your circadian rhythm (body clock) and will stimulate the production of serotonin and vitamin D – both play a vital role in good sleep.
4. Move your body (at the right time)
If you have the chance, exercise outside and get some sunlight and fresh air as an extra bonus. If that’s not possible, then exercise first thing in the morning at home. Your physical body will thank you for that and as a side effect your mental health and mood will brighten up too.
Did you know that the timing of your workout is crucial if you are trying to improve the quality of your sleep?
A study done by Appalachian State University had people exercise at 7AM, 1PM, and 7PM.
On average, morning exercisers spent more time in the deepest, most anabolic stages of sleep, slept longer, and had more efficient sleep cycles. In conclusion, the early morning (at 7am) may be the most beneficial time of day to engage in aerobic exercise for your sleep. As a bonus the 7am workout improved the participant’s blood pressure and helped to regulate it better. This might be interesting for you if you are struggling with high blood pressure due to stress, worries, and anxiety right now.
10 to 20 min of aerobic exercise which gets you sweating is enough. Search youtube for some great HIIT training videos
Now, let’s get back to our normal lives (as much as possible at least), and let’s whip our health and sleep back into shape. I am on board – are you?
Don’t want to do it by yourself? Or have you been struggling with some kind of sleeping problem for a while now? I am happy to help.
We can do it together!
Recover your health and sleep during COVID19 with me.