Sleep is a funny thing. At some stage, you've probably had that familiar thought: “I should be asleep by now, why am I still awake?” Then panic sets in and, before we know it, we find ourselves even more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than we felt after that cup of coffee 14 hours earlier. Our minds are powerful and, the moment we feel pressured to do something, the more difficult it can seem.
We know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. And we know that many are struggling in this current climate. Every single day, we are bombarded with stories, updates, stats, predictions and, more worryingly, false information. It’s not surprising that many of us are feeling anxious, particularly in the middle of the night when everything seems much worse.
But we must remember this unsettling period will not last forever. We will come out the other side with a new appreciation for life and the people we love. Every pandemic throughout human history has come to an end and this will be no different. Here are a few handy tips to help you reach the land of nod:
- Mindfulness – do you ever feel like you do all your thinking at night? As great as this can be for creative ideas, it can act as a barrier when we want to fall asleep. Mindfulness can help. It can stop our thoughts from trailing in different directions by focusing on the present moment. Try to focus on how your body is feeling, from the tip of your toes right up to the hairs on your head. Focus on your breathing, paying attention to your lungs exhaling and inhaling. In time, you may find yourself mentally and physically relaxing, making it easier to drift off.
- Stay away from digital screens – phones, iPads and TVs should be switched off at least half an hour before bedtime. Allowing your mind to disengage will help you relax, leaving the busy world behind you to have a peaceful night's sleep.
- Get into a good book – ideally get your hands on a physical copy of a book rather than a Kindle. Getting lost in a new world is a great way to disconnect from the everyday stresses that may be keeping you awake.
- Have a break from the news – now obviously you should stay up to date with what’s happening in the world but take a break from the news every now and again for your own mental wellbeing. Try to switch off from the headlines at least half an hour before you go to bed. It might make all the difference.
- Don’t look at the clock! We’ve all had that bad night’s sleep where we toss and turn, constantly watching the hours go by. As hard as it seems, try to let go of the sense of time when you get into bed, especially if you wake up in the middle of the night. It will help you feel less anxious and more in tune with your body and mind.
- Keep a sleep diary – keeping a note of how you’re sleeping can help you discover what does and doesn’t work for you. It can be even more effective if you have experts to guide you. That’s why we’ve partnered up with Sleepstation. Their online sleep improvement programme is clinically proven to combat even the most severe insomnia. But it's Sleepstation's personalised support that makes it so effective. One civil servant who feels passionately about the benefits of this programme is Andy. Read his story.
Find more support via the tiles and remember to share the details with someone who needs to know (at least an hour before bed, of course).