We’re living in strange times right now. No one knows how things will pan out for each of us or when we’ll be allowed to venture back out fully into the world, but although we know this isn’t forever, the one thing we do have control of is how we use our time.
Being at home is difficult. Some of us are finding we have less time and some of us have so much time we’re wondering what to do. Having something to focus on, however small, whichever camp you fall into, can help us get through this crazy situation.
It’s also important to be kind to yourself too, let things go and not be too hard on yourself if things don’t go as you intended. If the only thing you do right now is get the sleep you need, then you’re already on the way to being more productive, calmer and more able to deal with what life throws at you.
Focusing on this one simple thing can have huge benefits now and when we can all finally emerge. Whether that’s gleaming and ready for action or a bit disheveled and needing to learn how to dress in more than joggers and t-shirt again.
Here are five things you can focus on which will help you get the best sleep you can right now and which will pave the way for getting good sleep when life gets back to ‘normal’ too.
Get a good routine down
When we have extra time on our hands it’s easier to get a good routine down. But we can also find that time slips through our fingers and before we know it, it’s 5pm and we haven’t even got up from the sofa yet.
Setting a good routine for yourself for the beginning of the day and the end of the day ensures that you not only shower each day (even though we’re inside most of the day showering is still a must!) but that you feel a whole lot better too.
Whether we like it or not, we are routine forming creatures. A routine is just a series of habits, which means some routines are good for us and some routines are bad for us.
If we create a good routine that suits you, one that means you go to bed at a reasonable hour, eat decent food and do some exercise each day then your mental health will increase and that’s even before we add the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep into the mix. On the flip side, a bad routine of going to bed late, getting up whenever, only eating snacks and drinking soda each day is not so great for your mental health or your sleep.
How to tackle it.
Take the time to think about a good routine that suits you that involves three things in the morning and three things in the evening. In the evening, this could be reading a book, having a bath and getting ready for bed by 11pm. In the morning it could be, get out of bed as soon as I wake up and by 7am, make a drink, do a little exercise and get ready for the day. What you do in between is down to what you want to achieve each day. After a few days you won’t even think about it and you’ll generally be feeling better all round.
Get to bed at the same time every night and make it a habit
Going to bed at the same time every night as well as getting up at the same time every morning is the basis of a good routine. Our bodies like a routine even if we don’t and by going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time our body clock works at its best, which means we allow it to get the best sleep it can as well.
How to tackle it.
There are a couple of ways to work out when is a good time to go to bed and get up each day.
Work out when you want to get up or when you need to get up. It’s a good idea to work with the time that you’ll need to get up if you’re at work so that when we are all allowed out again, it’s not a struggle to change your routine. Then work back 8 hours. Go to bed at this new bedtime and see what time you wake up and how you feel. If you wake up early or you feel groggy for a while after getting up you may need less sleep, so take 15 minutes off your going to bedtime and see how you feel again. Allow a few days in between each shift of time to allow your body to settle.
The other way is to go to bed when you’re tired and see what time you wake up. This only works if you don’t need to be up early in the morning unless you naturally wake up when you need to – you lucky thing!
Use your circadian rhythm
Knowing if you’re an owl or a lark can be helpful when working out your routine as well as when to go to bed and get up too. It’s also useful to know what time of day is best to tackle certain tasks.
How to tackle it.
Take this quiz at The Power of When which breaks the population down into more than just owls and larks but Dolphins, Lions, Bears and Wolves. Most of us are Bears who hang somewhere in the middle of not getting up too early or too late.
Once you know your circadian rhythm you can work out when its best to do certain tasks in the day to be the most productive and get the most out of your day. As a Lion or early riser doing detailed and tasks that need a lot of brainwork are best done in the morning and more creative tasks that need a slightly wandering mind in the afternoon. For Wolves the opposite is true. For Bears finding a happy medium for you is the best thing to do and take the advice from the quiz results!
Sort out your bedroom and make it a sanctuary
Having a good environment to sleep in, like getting up and going to bed at the same time is an excellent base for a decent night’s sleep. A room that is clear of clutter, has no TV and is cool, dark and quiet when you’re sleeping is the best kind of sleep environment.
Clearing all the clutter from your bedroom so that you can clean it well and it’s free of dust will help you sleep much better. Having a dusty room even slightly can lead to a blocked nose.
It’s a great time to clear out your wardrobe, create a pile of items to donate or recycle that you haven’t worn or used in a year or more. Use the storage you have, but don’t cram it full of items and clothing. Make sure you can easily see everything.
When it comes to the rest of your bedroom, make sure it’s dark. If not invest in some blackout curtains or blinds. Turn the heating off at night to ensure your room is cool. Don’t worry about getting cold as your duvet will keep all the warmth in that you need. To take away any worry add a blanket to the bottom of the bed that you can pull over you if needed. If there is anything that is noisy like a clock then remove it from the room and if you have a TV in your bedroom move it to another room completely.
Clear the clutter
Once you’re in the flow of clearing stuff out after doing your bedroom you might as well move to through the rest of the house. Decluttering can take time depending on how much stuff you have, so now is a great time to do it if you find you’re looking for things to do.
Having a clear home which is easier and quicker to clean and allows you space means you can spend less time thinking about the piles of things you need to do or clear and more time thinking and doing things that will make you happy.
How to tackle it.
If you’re unsure where to start, the room with the least clutter is best. It gets you into the flow and isn’t overwhelming. It’s like a warmup for when you get to rooms that will need you to roll your sleeves up.
Whatever you choose to do with your time during this strange period, make sure you’re kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for something you think you should or shouldn’t have done. Look after yourself and that means your mental health too.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash