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Image / Editorial

Three reasons you might be feeling wrecked during lockdown (and how to fix them)

by Erin Lindsay
10th Jun 2020

You’re resting and relaxing more than ever before, but feeling absolutely wrecked when the alarm goes off – here’s what could be causing your lockdown grogginess, and how to shake it off

I can’t be alone in admitting that, since lockdown measures began over two months ago, I have been absolutely shattered.

It makes no sense – I’m resting so much more, getting so much more sleep, and using my evenings to actually relax rather than rush home to make the dinner. But when the alarm goes off in the morning (later than usual, after a solid eight hours or more), I feel more tired and fog-brained than I ever did in the office.

What’s the cause? Well, it could be a few things. Our routines that have been built up over years have all come crumbling down since Covid-19 struck, and while this can be great for many reasons, it can also wreak havoc with your body’s natural clock. If you are finding yourself feeling really tired, even though you’re getting plenty of sleep, investigate if it could be down to any of these factors.

Blue screen

So you do your skincare routine, nestle into freshly washed sheets and are feeling nice and mellow as you wind down to sleep. Want a foolproof way to undo all of that good stuff? Spend a half an hour on your phone before getting some kip.

The blue light that your phone emits seriously messes with your body’s ability to prepare for sleep. Your eyes aren’t good at blocking blue light, and when it gets through, it blocks a hormone called melatonin from being produced, which, in a nutshell, makes you sleepy. Your phone is essentially boosting your alertness and tricking your brain into thinking it should be wide awake, before forcing it to wind down again. In a word, it’s bad for sleep, and should be avoided.

It may be tough but starting tonight, make your bedroom a phone-free-zone. Leave it charging in another room, and get ready for bed as usual before doing something else, like reading, or listening to a podcast, to fall asleep. You’ll wake up feeling much more rested than usual.

Staggered bed times

A great aspect of working from home is being able to choose your own schedule. You can eat lunch when you like, go for a walk, and even set your wake-up time, if your job is quite flexible.

But while this is great for setting a routine around, a lot of us take advantage of it a bit too much, and let routine fall by the wayside. Some days we wake up at 7am to get early work done, some days we don’t have any Zoom meetings til 1pm, and sleep til 11. Staggering your bed times and waking times isn’t great for your body clock, and will have a negative effect on your sleep.

Try and find a bed time and wake-up time that works for every day of the week and stick to it. This means not lying in til late on the weekends, as tempting as it may be. Instead, find a window to sleep that works for your own internal rhythm. If you’re a night owl, and your work allows it, see if you can sleep late, work through the evening and go to bed late too, and vice versa for early birds.

Reduction in daylight

Even though we’re all encouraged to make the most of our 5km limit to exercise, many of us are really restricting our time outside due to Covid-19. It is, of course, essential that we keep our distance from other people and try to avoid contact. But this doesn’t mean avoiding the outdoors completely – if you do, it can really have a negative effect on your sleep.

Daylight is the main biological sign of alertness that our bodies respond to, and it’s important to get as much of it as we can in waking hours. As your body begins to wake up, it reduces melatonin, and switches it off when it sees daylight. But if you aren’t getting into the sunshine in the mornings like you normally would when you go to work, then that sleepy melatonin will stick around, making you feel groggy.

The solution? Go for a morning walk when you wake up. Nothing too strenuous, just once around the street, or even a lap of the garden, will do – as long as you give your body a chance to wake up and respond to natural light, it will make a big difference to how you feel for the rest of the day.