Tips for Sleeping Through the Pandemic

  • Many of us are suffering sleep deprivation during the COVID-19 pandemic due to increased stress and uncertainty coupled with a change in our routine.
  • We need eight hours of quality, deep sleep during this time to support a strong immune system to fight against infection and support the effectiveness of vaccination.
  • See our sleep tips to help instigate some better routines and habits to get your sleep back on track for a healthier, happier household.

The SleepDrops team has heard from many people worldwide who are struggling to sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic which is making it harder to cope with our ever-changing situation, lockdowns, and those tough days juggling work and home learning while trying to keep everyone healthy and happy.

In fact, research shows almost half of us are suffering from sleep deprivation and this is largely due to the many pandemic-induced stresses you may feel such as worrying about your work, finances, or the mental and physical health of your loved ones. However, let’s be honest, many of us have slipped into some not-so-healthy behaviours to cope with that stress. Many people are trying to escape reality by binge-watching a new series late into the night, sleeping in or napping through the day, comfort eating, drinking bottomless cups of coffee, or opening the home bar too early. While sometimes that’s what we think we need if it becomes routine it can seriously disrupt your health and sleep-wake cycles and change the hormones that control your sleep, leading you down a dark path of restless sleep or even sleep deprivation.

While sleep deprivation at any time in life is both frustrating and takes a major toll on our physical and mental health, with a global pandemic going on we need healthy sleep now, more than ever. Research has shown that getting eight hours of sleep each night helps enhance the function of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that attacks and kills viruses. Sleep also plays an important role in producing cytokines, a protein required for our immune systems to quickly communicate with our cells and fight off any infections.

Our expert tips below aim to help you and your household break out of that new pandemic routine and get back on track with a better sleep routine. Prioritising your sleep can support stronger immunity and a happier, healthier you.

Reinstate Pre-Lockdown Routines 

Sleep is regulated by our internal body clock, called the circadian rhythm which controls our sleep and wake times and our ability to achieve the deep, restorative sleep essential for building a strong immune function and optimal mental and physical health. There are two main groups of hormones linked to our circadian rhythm. The first is made up of serotonin, adrenaline, and cortisol – these help us feel awake and alert. The second is made up of the hormones GABA and Melatonin which help us feel calm, relaxed to send us off to sleep.

Our circadian rhythm loves routine and when we confuse it by staying up late watching screens, sleeping in, or taking day-time naps it interferes with the normal release of some of these hormones. It also interferes with Adenosine, a compound that builds up throughout the day and creates sleepiness literally helping us feel sleepy at night. Adenosine makes it possible for us to go to sleep at the right time and if all is in balance, also sleep through the night.

A set sleep time and wake-up time similar to that which you had prior to lockdown will help regulate your circadian rhythm and adenosine and bring back balance and health to your sleep patterns.

Try to get your whole household up at the same time if you have children, or relish the solo time if you have housemates.

While you may have found your work commute the bane of your working days, it was an important part of your routine. If you are still in lockdown, set up a fake commute by taking a 20–30-minute walk around the block keeping a 2m distance from others. The bonus is you will also expose your eyes to daylight which will help you feel more alert and support your sleep-wake cycles.

Eat to Sleep

Working from home and lockdowns can see us eating at unusual times, overeating, or snacking through our days. Those close cupboards can provide the ideal procrastination or comfort but wreak havoc on our waistlines and sleep time. If you are sleep-deprived, you will also have lower levels of the hormone leptin which tells your brain when you are full and satisfied, and higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, adding to an insatiable appetite that craves those energy-dense, processed foods.

Get your eating and sleep back on track by instigating consistent mealtimes (2-3 is optimal) to not only support your sleep-wake cycles but also a healthier digestive system too.

Start your day by aiming to eat within 90 minutes of waking and prioritise the time to make a nourishing breakfast. Research has shown that eating breakfast within 90 minutes of waking is especially important for females as it will help to support both metabolic and hormonal responses needed for healthy sleep-wake cycles. Skip the easy option of overly processed, sugary bread, or cereal and make the most of more time to prepare an omelette, poached or baked eggs, and vegetables, vegetable frittata, or soaked overnight oats with fruit.

Try to stick to consistent times for lunch and dinner too and base these around whole, fresh, or frozen, seasonal foods. This will help stablise your blood sugar levels and prevent never-ending snacking on heavily processed or sugary snacks. Try to have dinner at least two hours before bed so digestion doesn’t interfere with your sleep and include a source of quality protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to help maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the night. If you are consistently waking up between 2-3 am it could be due to your digestion or a drop in blood sugar levels.

Limit Sleep-Disrupting Drinks

With unlimited caffeinated or alcoholic drinks on tap at home, it’s easy to overindulge, especially if you are feeling tired or stressed. Try to keep to your normal caffeine intake and swap to non-caffeinated beverages after 2 pm. If your home bar is opening early to help you unwind remember while it may feel like alcohol helps you drop off to sleep, it also interferes with our ability to achieve deep, restorative sleep and the REM sleep we need for a strong immune system and optimal health and wellbeing. You can also suffer a more fragmented sleep with what is referred to as micro wakenings. You may also wake to visit the bathroom more often, or find yourself waking around 2 am as your liver tries to process the alcohol or experience stress hormone cortisol spikes. Try to give yourself alcohol-free days and nights as much as possible and especially during the week by swapping it out for some nice sparkling water or kombucha. If you are drinking, limit your alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks as early as possible in your evening.

Move To Snooze

If you are still in lockdown, it’s a great time to try out new and fun ways to move either solo or with your household. Getting outside for a walk/run/cycle or activity for at least 20-30 minutes every day will also help everyone avoid cabin fever, burn off some of those pandemic treats and set yourself up for a great night’s sleep. Try to get outside as early as possible to expose your eyes to light which stimulates the release of the hormone serotonin supporting healthy sleep-wake cycles. Getting out and about for daily exercise in the morning also sets you up mentally for a better day and ensures nothing else can interfere with your ability or time to get moving later in the day.

If you are feeling stressed, tired, or sick stick to low-intensity movement like walking, gentle cycling, yoga, or other forms of movement you enjoy. Try not to undertake any high-intensity movement 2-3 hours before bed as exercise can be stimulating and hinder sleep. Instead, swap this out for a calming yoga or a stretching session to help you relax before.  Our team uses these seven gentle yoga stretches for relaxation and sleep: 7 calming yoga poses for sleep and relaxation – Helen Sian India

Wind It Down

If you have had a stressful day working or running a home school, take the time to destress and wind down. At least an hour before bed, switch off from technology and swap to an activity you find relaxing such as reading a book, doing some yoga, playing some music, or anything else that helps you relax. Try our amazing Body Breath Scan here for 10 steps to help you completely relax before bed. 

For the perfect wind-down ritual, we recommend running yourself a hot bath and using our DIVINE Sleep Lavender Magnesium Bath Salts. Soaking in a warm bath is the ideal way to infuse your skin with magnesium, a mighty mineral that helps to reduce your stress levels and relax your muscles for a deeper and more restful night’s sleep. Our bath salts contain Magnesium Sulphate which is easily absorbed by the skin and are enriched with Lavender, a herb well known for its ability to relax the nervous system.

Digital Detox

With many of us glued to our phones or devices for pandemic updates, the local news, social interactions, and entertainment during this pandemic, it’s no wonder these blue light-emitting devices are interfering with the production of melatonin, our main sleep-inducing hormone which is sensitive to light and thus disrupting our sleep.

New research shows it’s not only important to reduce your screen time at least an hour before bed but that over-exposure during the day may also interfere with your sleep. While avoiding screens as we work from our home office may be difficult throughout the day, try to avoid looking at multiple devices at once and limit screen time before work, during meals, and breaks if you can. Use these times to be more present in your surroundings and engage with your household bubble.

Apps and Social Media platforms use creative strategies to keep you watching for longer so you might like to consider setting yourself limits on the amount of time you spend each day on social media and Netflix. (E.g. I’ll just watch one episode a night not five). If you need to, use an app like Freedom that blocks distracting apps and websites.

Mind Your Media

It’s important we stay informed during this pandemic but try to be mindful of how it is impacting your mood, stress levels and sleep. Watch the relevant news and updates but try not to read every click-bait article or listen to everyone’s opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic. Try to limit your exposure and spend this time on activities that YOU want to do. Seeing endless posts about baking, decorating, learning new languages or DIY projects may also stress you out. Think for yourself and focus on creating the right routines that add value to your life and truly work for you and your household.

Accept Your Worries

If you are finding it hard to sleep or waking through the night, it could be your conscious or unconscious stress or worries at play. When our head hits the pillow, the brain has a chance to process the day’s thoughts and stressors. The area of the brain responsible for this is the default mode network or the DMN. And it’s designed to focus on the negatives, to keep us safe. This can lead to us ruminating or overthinking throughout the night.

It’s important to identify and accept your worries before bed or when you wake. Labelling your worries and emotions will lessen them slightly. It may also help if you wake throughout the night to acknowledge it is completely normal to wake through the night and tell yourself you will go back to sleep. When you wake, try a deep breathing or meditation or mindfulness clip like this one to help ease your stress levels and send you back to sleep.

If you are still struggling to get to sleep, SleepDrops for Adults,(New Zealand’s Number 1 selling sleep formula*) is an effective, natural way to take carefully selected ingredients that provide rapid support to switch off your busy or worried mind, to go to sleep and get back to sleep faster if you are waking in the night. Click here to find out more about SleepDrops for Adults.

Research has shown specific nutritional supplements when taken at the correct level and dosage can also support deep sleep pathways. The SleepDrops Essential Sleep and Stress Nutrients Capsules is the ultimate sleep supplement containing seven scientifically validated nutrients proven to support you to stay asleep for longer throughout the night and sleep more deeply and restoratively. These high-strength capsules include Tart cherry (a natural source of melatonin) and 400mg of two highly absorbable forms of Magnesium. Melatonin and Magnesium work together to help the body achieve deep ‘slow-wave” sleep necessary for repair and rejuvenation as well as the optimal immune response from our body. This is further reinforced by the synergy of combining high doses of Vitamin C (2000mg), Zinc, and B Vitamins, all of which support healthy sleep, neurotransmitter production, balanced stress hormones, and robust immunity.

People the world over are feeling drawn to fine-tuning aspects of their health and immunity right now. Most of us are proactive during the day but are not doing all we can at night. Healthy sleep is very powerful but there is, even more, you can do to support your immunity. Our revolutionary SleepDrops Night Immune formula is an effective way to support and strengthen your immunity while you sleep. These delicious drops contain 8 scientifically researched herbal medicines to support immune health, aid in balancing the body’s response to inflammation (critical to controlling the immune response), and support relaxation necessary for healthy sleep. Taken at night, this triple-action supplement gets to work during all the stages of sleep to support a stronger, more robust immunity.

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