The current restrictions on our lives, including teaching your children from home and following social distancing measures, can impact our sleeping patterns and, in turn, wider mental wellbeing. This can be especially difficult for those trying to establish work-home boundaries for the first time.
Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, it's no surprise that many children are experiencing changes to their sleep pattern, which can make it difficult for parents. Naturally parents do have a lot a lot of things to juggle, which in turn can affect their own sleep. In fact, new research has revealed that more than four in 10 adults are experiencing more sleep problems than usual during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Public Health England recently worked with sleep expert Professor Colin Espie, who offered new advice on the Every Mind Matters website on how to help parents improve their sleep during these difficult and unprecedented times.
The first tip which Professor Espie suggests is to value your sleep. This is one of the most important things you can do. It might sound simple, but the best thing you can do is to make sure you get enough sleep on both weekdays and weekends. Some examples of how you can value your sleep include trying to go to bed earlier, and when you are in bed, try and not spend too much time outside of your sleeping window. You do need to try and give your sleep the right space in your life.
Next, you should prioritise your sleep as it is one of the most vital aspects to your good health, wellbeing and ability to help function throughout the day. By prioritising your sleep, it will also help you value it. Examples of how you can help prioritise this will mean choosing to sleep over something else, like reading a book or watching TV.
Thirdly, you should personalise your sleep as aleep is something that will help vary from person to person. It is recommended that per person, you need to spend time to help understand your personal sleep requirement. The current guidelines recommend seven to eight hours a night, but this will not be the same for everyone.
Trusting your sleep is also vital. Everyone is designed to sleep at night, so this means that you have to trust that it will happen if you get the settings correct. If there is ever a night where you can’t sleep, then don’t just lay there! Get up and move around and head back to bed when you are sleepy.
Lastly, protect your sleep. You have to learn to protect yourself from anything that could get in the way of going to sleep. This includes not having caffeine too late in the day, and one thing that has the most impact on your sleep is your racing mind. Try different tips to help unwind your mind before going to bed, you can even jot your worries down on a notebook to then think about the next day.
The current climate can be a very unsettling time for everyone, adjusting our routines can be challenging. Make sure to check out the Every Mind Matters platform for other tips and advice on supporting your mental wellbeing during this time of uncertainty.