23rd March 2020

There’s nothing more tiring than being stuck at home, but that doesn’t always mean that you can get good quality sleep. To help you during this difficult time, we spoke to our resident sleep expert; Dr Caroline Horton, to get some advice on how to maximise your chances of getting some well-earned rest.Sleeping well can impact positively on both our emotional and our physical functioning, so we suggest the following tips to help with getting to sleep and staying asleep. Please also contact Caroline.horton@bishopg.ac.uk if you are interested in taking part in an online project that aims to improve your sleep.

  1. Consistency of routine – establishing a regular work, exercise, and eating routine will impact on sleep. Going to sleep and waking up at very similar times each day can really help to train the body and brain to switch off, and switch on again in the morning.
  2. Dealing with anxiety – Most of us have periods where we struggle to switch off, because our minds are racing with current concerns. Unfortunately, with the current and unpredictable situation concerning COVID-19, mental health charities are in high demand, dealing with additional cases of anxiety. This can be troubling enough to deal with, but it can also disrupt sleep, which in turn can increase the frequency and scale of negative thoughts the following day. Switching off is therefore crucially important. Take the time to unwind and relax, as best you can, well before your usual bedtime. That way your body and mind should be more prepared for sleep. BGU has support in place to help with this. Staff can access our employee assistance programme through Perkbox and students can access round-the-clock support via Big White Wall.
  3. Boundaries – Similarly, our minds can race when we are busy or on overdrive. This can be when we are excited or active. Ideally, we have a consistent routine that separates out working from leisure, and each of those from sleep. Working/learning from home makes the creation of such boundaries even more challenging. Here at DrEAMSLab, we recommend allowing an extra 30-60 minutes to prepare for sleep. Watching Netflix doesn’t count as preparing for sleep, as that can in fact keep the mind active! Take time to settle and relax. If reading is calming for you, engage with that, but from the page rather than from a blue-light emitting device. If possible, don’t work in the room that you sleep in; keep those environments separate. Don’t use your bed for work. Create work/leisure/sleep boundaries in your routine as well as your physical spaces.
  4. General sleep hygiene – There are endless tips and tricks that aim to promote sleeping healthily. Consider signing up to the Sleep Well research study to access current information from DrEAMSLab (now online!) by contacting Caroline.horton@bishopg.ac.uk, and/or consult the following helpful sites:

NHS choices

The Sleep Council

Resources from the recent World Sleep Day (13th March 2020)