Right now all of us are in the same situation. Stuck in our houses for the 7th week in a row, with little end in sight. Some people (begrudgingly including myself at times), will have wasted away these 7 weeks – waking up at 2pm each day, yet still always feeling like they haven’t quite had enough sleep, and proceeding to steamroll through the last few unrinsed series on Netflix, fuelled solely by the ever-reliable companion of Doritos. However, some mythical creatures have had a very different experience during this pandemic. We’ve all seen these people posting their sunrise runs on Instagram, or smugly uploading their acai berry porridge on their Snapchat stories. I have to admit quite frankly these people can be irritating, rubbing their seemingly inhuman self-control and motivation in your face every hour of the day… You can imagine my shock then when I myself started to resemble one of these creatures. No longer do I let my days slide away from me, fixated on shows I pretended to enjoy but never really did. No longer do I feel guilty seeing the nutritious meals of others online as my crisp packets gave me intensely flirtatious looks from across the room. In recent weeks, I have fairly effortlessly transitioned to spending my days alternating exercise with working through assignments, feasting on meals covered with green that once seemed so unappealing. So what changed? To put it simply – sleep.
For years I have been aware of my need to improve my sleep quality and this has only been confounded by my uni life. The dangerous combination of late-night house parties and early morning lectures has conditioned me to surviving on as little sleep as I can and it had got to the point where even when I didn’t have a house party or a lecture I would deprive my body of much-deserved sleep, regularly watching forgettable YouTube videos deep into the early hours of the morning. It was only once I started sleeping well that I realised how crucial it is to your wellbeing and productivity.
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation significantly increases your desire for high-calorie foods, impairs focus and perceived effort during exercise – no wonder I found it so difficult to eat healthily, work on my assignments and exercise optimally when I was sleeping inadequately. In this article, I am going to provide you with some of the steps that you can take to ensure you are sleeping properly and to help you become productive for the rest of lockdown (and much longer).
- Sleep and wake up at the same time every night – it turns out my old beloved tactic of starving myself of sleep during the week and then having absolute mammoth sleeping sessions on the weekend in order to catch up isn’t really validated by science. Higher sleep regularity was associated with greater morning and evening happiness, healthiness and calmness in college students. So going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is a surefire way to enhance your sleep.
- Avoid electronic devices a couple of hours before bed – although there’s nothing like a stalk on Instagram before you go to bed, it turns out there actually is. This is in fact one of the worst things you can do for your sleep quality. Electronic devices emit large quantities of blue light wavelengths, which can suppress the secretion of a hormone called melatonin. Basically, this is a hormone that tells your body when to sleep and increases the depth of your sleep. Therefore, that nightly scroll on twitter or watch of youtube can decrease both the quantity and quality of sleep that you’re having. Replace that with a late-night walk or read and you will feel much more rested the next day.
- Take a CBD supplement – one simple way of boosting that sleep is taking CBD regularly. CBD or cannabidiol is a compound found in cannabis that doesn’t have the psychoactive effects seen from cannabis usage due to the lack of tetrahydrocannabinol or if you’re not trying to destroy your parents at scrabble – THC. A study involving 103 adults with concerns over anxiety or poor sleep found that anxiety scores decreased in 79% of participants and conversely sleep scores improved in 66% of participants after one month of CBD usage. This suggests that CBD supplementation is definitely worth a try if you’re struggling with your sleep, especially if this is in part due to anxiety. Make sure to buy your CBD products from reliable sources in order to ensure it contains the proper dosages and ingredients.
I hope I have convinced you to follow these steps in order to improve your sleep and to help get you out of that lockdown rut.