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Lindsay Harrison
August 12, 2020

Sleep observations

There’s nothing better than waking up after a really good sleep. Your mind is sharper, you have more energy and you feel refreshed and ready to take on the day.

 

Kitten-sleeping

 

 

As we’ve navigated our way through this global pandemic, it’s no surprise that many of us have experienced some changes in our sleeping pattern. There have been a few recurring sleep observations that we thought were worth investigating. So, we asked Clinical Sleep Physiologist Courtney Jagvik for some expert insight into the mysterious world of sleep.

OBSERVATION #1

TROUBLE GETTING TO SLEEP

Many of us have experienced trouble switching our mind off at night. During this unsettling and uncertain time, we’ve been missing our regular outings which under normal circumstances provides social interaction, we’ve missed physical contact with our family and friends, plus we’ve been dealing with worry over the virus itself.

All of these factors contribute to higher stress levels than normal. This impacts our ability to fall asleep and affects the quality of sleep we experience once we arrive in the land of nod.


TIP

Practice a ‘wind down’ routine every night, for approximately one hour before bedtime.


Our brain sends the body signals to prepare us for sleep. Encourage this by dimming the lights, turning off blue light devices and ease into bedtime by reading, enjoying a decaffeinated drink or a warm shower.


OBSERVATION #2

TROUBLE STAYING ASLEEP

Our brain is a hugely powerful organ, one that relies on the restorative process of sleep. During the night it’s normal for us to wake briefly as we move through the different stages of sleep. In recent months, people have been waking and have found themselves unable to go back to sleep. This is disruptive to our sleep cycles.

TIP
Train your body that bed is for sleep, not tossing and turning. If you wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep within 20 minutes, get out of bed and go to a different room.

Use lamp light when you get up for this period and avoid blue light screens. Try reading or using a journal to jot down any worries or tasks that are weighing on your mind. This helps to transfer them out of your mind and into the journal.


After 30 minutes, or when you begin to feel sleepy, go back to bed. If sleep is still not achieved, repeat. Be patient, creating a new habit may take some practice.

 

OBSERVATION #3

VIVID DREAMS

The increased stress and anxiety of the last few months has caused many people to be more sleep deprived than usual. This can increase the amount of REM sleep we’re experiencing, which is the cycle of sleep where we do most of our dreaming.

Research suggests that REM sleep is associated with emotional experiences we have during the day. Therefore, it makes sense that our exposure to stressful information and emotional responses to that information can lead to more vivid dreams than normal.

 

TIP
Try to limit your exposure to media, especially if it causes you to become anxious. Staying up to date is important, however falling down the rabbit hole of reading article after article can play on our subconscious and will inevitably affect our sleep.

Photo by Jonathan Fink on Unsplash