Blue lights for the NHS – Tower Bridge and The Shard, Evening Standard
I see a lot of people saying they are having trouble sleeping, so thought the following from the Sleep Foundation may be of interest.
Our Guidelines to Sleeping Well During the COVID-19 Outbreak
In spite of the daunting challenges, there are a handful of steps that can promote better sleep during the coronavirus pandemic.
If these efforts don’t pay off immediately, don’t give up. It can take time to stabilize your sleep, and you may find that you need to adapt these suggestions to best fit your specific situation.
Set Your Schedule and Routine
Establishing a routine can facilitate a sense of normalcy even in abnormal times. It’s easier for your mind and body to acclimate to a consistent sleep schedule, which is why health experts have long recommended avoiding major variation in your daily sleep times.
Sleep-specific aspects of your daily schedule should include:
- Wake-Up Time: Set your alarm, bypass the snooze button, and have a fixed time to get every day started.
- Wind-Down Time: This is an important time to relax and get ready for bed. It can involve things like light reading, stretching, and meditating along with preparations for bed like putting on pajamas and brushing your teeth. Given the stress of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s wise to give yourself extra wind-down time each night.
- Bedtime: Pick a consistent time to actually turn out the lights and try to fall asleep.
In addition to time spent sleeping and getting ready for bed, it can be helpful to incorporate steady routines to provide time cues throughout the day, including:
- Showering and getting dressed even if you aren’t leaving the house.
- Eating meals at the same time each day.
- Blocking off specific time periods for work and exercise.
Reserve Your Bed For Sleep
Sleep experts emphasize the importance of creating an association in your mind between your bed and sleep. For this reason, they recommend that sleep and sex be the only activities that take place in your bed.
This means that working-from-home shouldn’t be working-from-bed. It also means avoiding bringing a laptop into bed to watch a movie or series.
On any given night, if you find that you’re having a hard time sleeping, don’t spend more than 20 minutes tossing and turning. Instead, get out of bed and do something relaxing in very low light, and then head back to bed to try to fall asleep.
Frequently changing your sheets, fluffing your pillows, and making your bed can keep your bed feeling fresh, creating a comfortable and inviting setting to doze off.
See the Light
- Exposure to light plays a crucial role in helping our bodies regulate sleep in a healthy way. As you deal with disruptions to daily life, you may need to take steps so that light-based cues have a positive effect on your circadian rhythm.
- If you can, spend some time outside in natural light. Even if the sun isn’t shining brightly, natural light still has positive effects on circadian rhythm. Many people find outdoor time is most beneficial in the morning, and as an added bonus, it’s an opportunity to get fresh air.
- As much as possible, open windows and blinds to let light into your home during the day.
- Be mindful of screen time. The blue light produced by electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and computers, has been found to interfere with the body’s natural sleep-promoting processes. As much as possible, avoid using these devices for an hour before bed. You can also use device settings or special apps that reduce or filter blue light.
Be Careful with Naps
If you’re home all day, you may be tempted to take more naps. While a short power nap early in the afternoon can be useful to some people, it’s best to avoid long naps or naps later in the day that can hinder nighttime sleep.
It’s easy to overlook exercise with everything happening in the world, but regular daily activity has numerous important benefits, including for sleep.
If you can go for a walk while maintaining a safe distance from other people, that’s a great option. If not, there is a wealth of resources online for all types and levels of exercise. Many gyms and yoga and dance studios are live-streaming free classes during this period of social distancing.
Practice Kindness and Foster Connection
It might not seem critical to your sleep, but kindness and connection can reduce stress and its harmful effects on mood and sleep.
Despite all the bad news that you may come across, try to find some positive stories, such as how people are supporting one another through the pandemic. You can use technology to stay in touch with friends and family so that you can maintain social connections despite the need for social distancing.
Utilize Relaxation Techniques
- Finding ways to relax can be a potent tool in improving your sleep. Deep breathing, stretching, yoga, mindfulness meditation, calming music, and quiet reading are just a few examples of relaxation techniques that you can build into your routines. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out smartphone apps like Headspace and Calm that have programs designed for people new to meditation.
- Another relaxation strategy during this pandemic is to avoid becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus-related news. For example, you can try techniques including:
- Bookmarking one or two trusted news sites and visiting them only during a limited, pre-set amount of time each day.
- Cutting down the total time that you spend scrolling on social media. If you want a hand in this effort, a number of apps can monitor and even block your time on social media sites or apps each day.
- Scheduling phone or video calls with friends and family and agreeing in advance to focus on topics other than the coronavirus.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Keeping a healthy diet can promote good sleep. In particular, be cautious with the intake of alcohol and caffeine, especially later in the day, as both can disrupt the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Contact Your Doctor if Necessary
If you have severe or worsening sleep or other health problems, it is advisable to be in touch with your doctor. Many doctors are increasing availability via email or telemedicine to allow patients to discuss concerns without having to physically visit their office.
There’s lots more information on their website.
And the NHS also has some advice on getting to sleep.
And our regular Saturday contributor Annabel Wallis MBE is back with some tips on yoga.
Yoga is a large collection of spiritual techniques and practices aimed at integrating mind, body, and spirit to achieve oneness with the universe or a state of enlightenment. What is normally thought of as yoga in the West is really Hatha Yoga, one of the many paths of yoga. The different paths of yoga emphasise different approaches and techniques, but ultimately lead to the same goal of unification and enlightenment.
There are many different styles of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Iyengar and Sivananda. Some styles are more vigorous than others, while some may have a different area of emphasis, e.g, posture or breathing.
Numerous benefits of practicing yoga include:-
- Improve and maintain the health of muscles, joints, and organs
- Improve flexibility, strength, stamina, mobility, range of motion and balance
- Reduce stress and promote relaxation
- Increase happiness and well-being and reduce depression
- Sleep better
- Prevent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and auto-immune disorders
- Help heal common aches like back pain
While you may feel some intensity in the belly of your muscles while in a yoga pose, you should never feel pain, especially in the joints.
Some basic yoga exercises include:-
1. Easy Pose – (relieves stress and increases flexibility).
Sit cross-legged on the carpet with your hands on your knees, palms up. Keep your spine straight. Push the bones you are sitting on down into the floor – your “sit bones” in yoga speak. Close your eyes and inhale.
2. Cat-cow (eases back pain and awakens the spine).
Get on the floor on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Distribute your weight equally between your hands and spread your fingers wide. Inhale and round your back, arching it up as you lower your chin to your chest; feel the stretch from your neck to your tailbone, like a cat. As you exhale, lower your back down all the way to a scoop shape as you lift your head and tilt it back. Repeat 5 to 10 times or more.
3. Tree Pose – (Improves your balance).
Start by standing straight for this pose. Bring your hands together in the prayer position and lift them over your head. Balance on your right leg. Bend your left knee out to the left side and press your left foot to the inner thigh of your right leg. Hold for 30 seconds. Change legs and repeat.
4. Downward-Facing Dog – (enhances flexibility).
In downward-facing dog, your body forms an inverted V-shape. Start by placing both hands on the floor in front of you, palms down; your hands should be slightly in front of your shoulders. Place your knees on the ground directly under your hips. Exhale as you lift your knees off the ground and lift your glutes and hips toward the ceiling. Push the top of your thighs back and stretch your heels down toward the floor. Keep your head down between your upper arms and in line with them, not hanging down. The pose is often held for five breaths between sides, or longer for more strength building benefits. Lengthen from your wrists to your hips on your inhales and deepen your roots from your hips to your heels with each exhale.
5. Child’s Pose – (helps you relax and unwind).
From downward-facing dog, bend your knees and lower your glutes to your heels as you bring your chest toward the floor over your knees. Lower your shoulders and head to the floor. Place your arms along your sides, palms down, or you can support your head by folding your arms under your forehead. Breathe and relax for as long as you need to.
This exercise is an opportunity to get grounded, go inward, and to come out of your busy mind and into your body by awakening your breath from the inside out. Child’s Pose is a great way to take a break and relax during your yoga practice or anytime you feel tired or overwhelmed.
Yoga has many benefits including relieving stress and improving flexibility. Why not give it a go?
We would like to collect feedback from people who have been conducting key worker tests. We would particularly be interested to hear if you used face masks, and if so how you got on teaching with them on. Please write it to me if you can we’d like to hear about your experiences.
There has been a lot of discussion about face masks, and whether or not to wear them. Anyone with asthma or other lung conditions should take particular note of this article, with thanks to ADINJC member Karen Pryce for sending it in. We would also suggest that everyone read it in case you should have a pupil with breathing difficulties.
If you would like to join the ADINJC there is more information on our website.
Whilst our newsflashes are normally a benefit of membership of the ADINJC, during this national emergency we want to share information as widely as possible, so please feel free to pass this on. We are stronger together.
The NJC continues to be dedicated to help you in these challenging times and we hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy. Please feel free to contact us for help and support.
ADINJC’s helpline is 0800 8202 444
The Secretary’s number is 07855 453414
HMRC Helpline: 0800 0159 559
Citizens Advice Bureau – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/
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