Re-emerging from Coronasomnia
Updated: May 20
There has been a surge in insomnia over the last year, as we strive to cope with disrupted routines and ongoing uncertainty. A study from the University of Southampton in August 2020 showed the number of insomnia sufferers rose from one in six to one in four.
We have all had our resilience put to the test, with an unprecedented level of change to our lives and lifestyles. We have been conditioned to work at work, and rest at home, but the lines have become blurred and perhaps working hours have lacked boundaries. Lockdown makes it harder to keep the circadian rhythm (biological body clock) on track, if we work at a desk, going straight from zoom to zoom, without moving the body.
In order to create a shape to the week (and remember what day it was), my family created a schedule to differentiate the weekends from the weekdays - Friday became pizza-gogglebox day, and Saturday was Family Film Night. We took turns to choose a selection of trailers and then voted for the one we wanted to watch. We stayed out of each other's space most of the time, coming together to watch, laugh and shout at "House of Games" over lunch, and for dinner and a chat. It worked. However, it was hard to motivate the teens to exercise without the routine of team sport and connecting with friends.
Screen time is an obvious trap, and one that I will leave you to explore. Do you feel any more relaxed when you go to bed, if you've spent the evening screen-free - listening to music, chatting, reading, playing an instrument, taking a bath? One tip that I would urge you to do is to avoid the rabbit hole when you plug your phone in at bedtime. It's so easy to do, but just one look at the phone is enough to spike your cortisol level and tell your brain to switch on, which is the last thing you need. If you find you're resisting this little trick, that's telling, don't you think? The film, The Social Dilemma, shows how apps are designed to pull you in. Be in control of your phone rather than the other way round!
Our feelings of safety and security have been challenged by the unknown, and the fear of losing income and not being able to keep our family safe; a simple trip to the supermarket providing a real threat of danger to our survival. This constant level of low-lying fear keeps our cortisol levels elevated and can make it hard to get to sleep, wake us up in the night or shorten our sleep. It can also cause heat, which isn't helpful when you're susceptible to hot flushes in the night.
When we sleep, we are vulnerable. However, if our cortisol levels are high, our
subconscious will be focused on survival. We are more likely to be hyper vigilant to sound, or wake easily in the night. The primitive brain is working hard to keep us safe. You may have experienced vivid dreams too. We need to go easy on ourselves, as this chronic level of stress will take time to settle. Cortisol levels spike quickly and take more time to disperse, and our minds and bodies get accustomed to heightened stress levels and a new norm is established.
The amount and quality of sleep is determined by the mind. So let's be proactive, and do activities to calm our systems. Do what feels good, and what soothes you, whether that's yoga, gardening, music, journalling, a candle meditation or taking a bubble bath more often. Have you noticed how healing water is? Make sure to do things which make you laugh - the ultimate stress relief (or a good cry - great for discharging emotion and bringing you back into balance).
I've really missed the power of touch - I can't wait to hug my friends and family (but not everyone!) I have really missed being able to hug friends who have gone through really tough times during this period. My heart goes out to anyone who's lost someone they love to the pandemic, or separated from a partner and has had to readjust without the physical contact between friends. In the meantime, leave a voice message and put your arms around you, visualising that special hug for your friend.
We are re-emerging now, with steadiness, having developed a deeper understanding of what gives us good health and wellbeing. My hope is that we retain what's important - nature, moving our bodies, our family and friends, and don't rush back into busy mentalities, squeezing in a gazillion of kids' or social activities.
Take your time re-emerging. Be kind to yourself. Go at your own pace.
nowhere else to be
no-one else to be
you are enough
leaning into any worries you may have
knowing that everything will be alright
If you know someone who is struggling with their sleep, and you would like to help them, let them know about this: The 5 Simple Steps To Better Sleep Workshop in Claygate, Surrey on Thursday 27 May at 7pm. They can book a free discovery call with me to find out how I can help, with this link https://nickydye/30-min-discovery-call