What to do when sleep is disrupted
- Mums Tips
- Fitness & Health
- Published on Monday, 01 March 2021 11:00
- Last Updated on 09 March 2021
- Monica Costa
- 0 Comments
National Bed Month takes place throughout March and to celebrate it, I have done some research on what to do when sleep is disrupted as well as tested new products to promote sleep. I’m sharing here simple hacks that work for me to have a good night sleep.
This second lockdown has been much harder than the first one. I have to admit that I have become a bit of a sloth during the pandemic and it now takes me a lot longer to do simple tasks. My sleep has been disrupted a bit too because I tend to go to bed later at night. Sleep patterns have changed.
We know sleep is vital for our health and wellness but a lack of sleep runs much deeper than just feeling tired the next day.
Routines and exercise
The bedtime routines should be supported by regular daytime routines and exercise. I’ve recently read a FT article about what astronauts did in space to help fight monotony and learnt quite a few lessons on how to cope in lockdown and beyond. Interestingly enough, both the European Space Agency and Nasa training techniques and tips can also help us sleep better. Isolation and confinement are considered hazards to astronauts’ health, as they can cause a decline in mood, a lack of interaction and fatigue. The key to stay happy is to leave behind the things we enjoy and focus on what we can do. One simple action to help reduce stress, for instance, is feeling the wind on our face. Astronauts know their time in space is limited and this knowledge can help to manage any feelings of isolation as they go about their dream job, taking photos of earth, running experiments or making training videos. But in the pandemic, the absence of a timeframe can be psychologically hard, even as vaccine hopes rise. In this situation, routines and regular exercise are important even to regulate sleep patterns.
The right mattress
Treat your bedroom like a sleeping sanctuary and yourself as Sleeping Beauty. No use of smartphones or screens, no TV. With so much heartache, upheaval and stress in the world in 2020, I developed lower back pain which prevented me from having a good night’s sleep and high productivity at work. Only after changing the mattress. I understood its importance to boost my health and wellbeing.
A luxury mattress worth £899+ is certainly an investment, but it is proven that sleep is the foundation for wellbeing. In fact, the science now shows that the human sleep wake cycle influences practically all aspects of our lives.
Once I started seeing the benefits of having a good night sleep after years of deprivation, I wanted to keep improving my sleep quality. So I started getting accessories. You can go wild on this type of shopping, actually.
I read that using an eye mask can really make a difference, but could not find an eye mask that could guarantee stable positioning until I found the dual strap silk eye mask by This is Silk. Not only it provides the most comfort through the night but it’s also filled with divinely soft Mulberry Silk floss. I can barely feel it on my face. It has two adjustable velvet straps for a personalised fit so it does not move at all. Silk is known for its anti-ageing properties and this one in particular is larger than usual to ensure the delicate eye area is covered and protected, and to block out as much light as possible. The Silk does not absorb eye creams like cotton does, so my overnight eye creams work harder for me and stay in place. I can call myself Sleeping Beauty!
To be the perfect Sleeping Beauty I had to also upgrade my pillow. Since using the Gainsborough Blue Silk pillowcase, I feel my skin is also softer and my hair smoother. I thought this was only a legend but I can confirm that silk does indeed make a huge contribution to my skincare. I even feel that I have less wrinkles and that my skin is softer.
The silk touch on the skin helps with fine lines and sleep creases on my face. It also helps my facial serums work harder at night so when I wake up my face is properly relaxed. My hair is also naturally wild and the silk pillowcase calms its frizz and prevents unmanageable bedhead.
Wearing comfortable pjs is not to be underestimated. When I fit into soft fabric at nighttime I immediately feel more relaxed.
One of the best brand for nightwear is Polarn O. Pyret, which have manufactured sustainable Swedish kidswear since 1976. Their Twinning Loungewear (RRP £52 for set) is not only adorable with their distinctive Swedish flare but also very comfortable because it’s made with quality, organic cotton clothes. The matching mother and child unisex nightwear is particularly sweet and can create a fun bond with young children at bedtime. I love the fabric of the pj I tried: it’s robust and eco-friendly. I read that the fabric used was made from recycled bottles and is waterproof. Now that we are spending more time indoor, it is nice to be able to wear such comfy but also practical loungwear. This first collection – which includes lots of stripes – captures the feeling of spring, providing the perfect attire for playing, baking and snoozing.
To improve my sleep quality I have often used herbal and homeopathic remedies.
Valerian taken in tablets or as tea is really good. At least it works well for me. I have alternated it with Rescue Remedy® which was formulated by a doctor 80 years ago to help stress less, stay calm and in control. It’s essentially a blend of five individual Bach™ Original Flower Essences and most importantly it is a non-habit forming stress relief. It is important for me that it is not addictive because the last thing I want is to become dependent from any remedy. Both Rescue Night and and the day droplets provide comfort & reassurance, to calm and support my emotional balance. The night remedy is particularly tasty as it includes the sweet White Chestnut flower essence to switch off the distractions. What keeps me awake is often my brain working tirelessly and thinking about daytime problems. The White Chestnut flower essence helps to really switch off and allows for a natural night’s sleep, so I awake refreshed. It’s free from sedatives, has no side effects and I have never had any grogginess the next morning.
Dr Bach’s traditional methods date back over 80 years, using many plants originating from the same garden he sourced his flowers from in rural Oxfordshire.
Another factor to disturb women’s sleep is the monthly cycle. New studies show that 30% of women face disrupted sleep when menstruating and we’ve all worried about waking up to leaks from periods or our bladders. Many of us have been there, when we notice a stain on our lovely bedding. It can make us even more panicked if we are sharing the bed with someone, or not at sleeping at ours.
British brand Modibodi® has created leak-proof undies with 24-hour absorbency including comfy Maxi-24Hrs Sleep Shorts and other lingerie with padding. This underwear holds up to 50ml of liquid (that’s around a mega 10 tampons worth), offering overnight protection and peace of mind for women with very heavy periods, frequent bladder leaks or those who just want to sleep soundly without period/leak worries.
The Sleep Shorts feature a highly breathable super slim (6mm), and extremely absorbent lining. The lining is stain and bacteria fighting, so you wake up leak and odour free. They move with the body, so while tossing and turning in bed the shorts sit comfortably and leak free and help promote sleep quality.
The seamless underwear is not just very practical but is also very good looking with funky new colourful designs.
The Rest & Relax Air Spray provides rapid delivery of essential oils with each spray, for peaceful, serene and restful nights. The Stress Roll-On also offers a calming combination of 12 essential oils, including lavender, orange peel and pennyroyal. This has to be my favourite product of all.
Deep breathing can help aid sleep. A study published in Psychophysiology asked insomniacs to practice slow breathing before bed time, with results showing improvements in sleep duration and quality and a reduction in the time it took to nod off.
Other reasons included:
- late-night TV (31%)
- eating too late (23%)
- having a restless partner (18%).
It’s not just adults suffering. According to this research, over half (59%) of children aren’t getting their recommended nine to 10 hours of sleep a night.
But why is our sleep so bad? GP, Dr Gill Jenkins said: “We all know that poor sleep patterns have been a serious health issue for some time, and these problems have been driven by social media and our constant need to feel ‘connected’, but the coronavirus pandemic has brought a new dimension to this modern-day malaise.”
The research confirms that: Almost a third of people have had trouble falling asleep whilst working from home during all the lockdowns, with a quarter (27%) resorting to daytime naps to pay back their sleep ‘debt’.
It’s easy to see why lockdown sleep was an issue, as boundaries became blurred for many.
Almost a third (31%) have been working from their bedrooms during all the lockdowns. This was particularly common among young adults.
Plus, to make up for missed sleep, the stuydy proves that many of us used the weekends to ‘catch up’:
- On weekdays, one in four of those surveyed (24%) were up before 7am
- At weekends, only 13% of adults rose before 7am with one in five (21%) sleeping till after 10am.
Professor Jason Ellis, Professor of Sleep Science and Director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research Department, explained that this is a recipe for social jetlag – the difference between the times we sleep, and the times our biological clocks want to us to sleep, and social sleep restriction; reducing our sleep duration on certain days. These have both been linked to health conditions associated with poor sleep patterns, including heart disease, obesity, metabolic dysfunction and increased inflammation.
Professor Ellis said: “It’s clear that the coronavirus pandemic is having a huge, unexpected, impact on our sleep patterns.’ It’s time to deal with our lack of sleep head on.”
GP, Dr Nisa Aslam explained: “As we enter winter and continue to live with coronavirus, it has never been more important to solve our sleep issues and do everything we can to strengthen our natural defenses against infection. Poor sleep patterns and poor sleep quality will affect your immune health and leave you vulnerable to picking up winter ills and respiratory troubles.”
Added to this, medical herbalist Dr Chris Etheridge explained that a regular rhythm of sleep is essential for deep, refreshing rest so our body can recharge and repair. He adds that breathing techniques and the use of essential oils, can improve sleep quality.
Himalayan Salt Lamps
Himalayan Salt Lamps are really pretty but I always wondered whether they are useful to improve sleep. They not only have a warm, soothing glow but actually serve the purpose of improving breathing problems and reducing allergies and respiratory ailments. Here’s the explanation behind this simple yet efficient and cost effective remedy. Water vapour circulates in the air indoor carrying allergens such as dust, pollen, smoke particles, and even bacteria and viruses. Salt is hygroscopic, which means that it attracts water molecules from the surrounding air. A large block of rock salt, like a Himalayan salt lamp, is especially effective to attract these microscopic compounds that remain on the salt and not floating in the air where we breathe. The Himalayan salt lamp becomes saturated with water vapour, and the heat from the lamp inside dries it, thus continuing the hygroscopic effect for as long as the light is on. This heat re-releases water vapour back into the air emitting negative ions. As complicated as it sounds, the lamp traps airborne pollutants so they don’t become airborne again.
Obvious benefits include the prevention of colds and flu (due to less airborne viruses); the neutralising of electromagnetic radiation from devices like computers, TVs, appliances, and smart phones; the improvement of our ability to concentrate and work for longer periods around electrical equipment like computers; increased relaxation and calmness; fewer headaches and migraines; and ultimately the easiness to fall asleep at night.
I really cannot measure the amount of airborne pollutants in my bedroom, but the combination of all those remedies have greatly contributed to my sleep quality and I know it because I am happy and energetic when I wake up and I have been very healthy so far as a result.
Evening drink ritual
For the evening rituals ahead of bedtime, I like to alternate camomile tea, ginger tea, or banana tea with a Barleycup Caramel, a naturally caffeine-free hot drink made from roasted barley, rye and chicory. With the addition of caramel, it offers a deliciously mild, sweet flavour and also provides a source of dietary fibre. It is a low calorie drink with a sweet flavour and I like to add a bit of honey.
The perfect treat when the temptation to grab just one more caffeinated brew is real, and while trying to reduce or cut my caffeine consumption (RRP: £3.69 for 100g available from independent health food stores or http://www.barleycup.co.uk/).
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums