Find yourself wondering why you don’t feel properly awake in the minutes, or hours, after your alarm? You might not be getting enough quality sleep. Read on to find out how to get rid of a foggy head.
I’ve got the reputation of being verging-on-annoyingly bright eyed and bushy tailed when my alarm goes off, immediately ready to chat while others are still wiping the sleep from their eyes.
And it’s lucky that I’ve never found mornings especially hard, because in January I moved from east London to Brighton and changed my commute from 45 minutes to just over two hours.
I definitely didn’t enjoy stumbling out of bed before sunrise, taking a two-minute shower and having hardly enough time to brush my hair before getting on the 6.30am train, but I got used to it and still managed to stay awake at my desk and socialise after work.
So, when lockdown happened there was one gleaming silver lining for me: no more commute. In those first few days I revelled in my two hour lie in and fantasised about how much better I’d feel after a couple of weeks of extra sleep.
But weirdly, what I expected to happen… hasn’t. Instead of feeling rested and bouncing out of bed in the morning after a generous lie-in, my head is full of fog. In fact, I’m more tired than ever.
Stylist previously wrote about how our inactiveness during lockdown has led many of us to feel more tired than usual, with several members of the team admitting to falling asleep on the sofa before 7pm.
But if you’re specifically struggling to wake up in the mornings, it seems burnout hangover might be the problem.
I spoke to sleep psychologist and mindfulness expert, Hope Bastine, who is also resident expert for sleep technology firm Simba, about why my head feels so heavy in the mornings.
Although lockdown has been going on for weeks, Bastine says we could still be feeling the effects of our busy city lives. “You could be experiencing a physiological lack of motivation, like a burnout hangover,” she explains.
“Our city lives are insanely busy. We are over stressed, over anxious and over stimulated, so this lockdown period, if we use it right, is actually a chance to catch our breath and press the reset button. But you don’t realise that you are in distress until you actually stop, because your body has been on uber adrenaline mode.”
Bastine says there’s a chance that – although other things play into how we’re feeling – our bodies are still not getting the right kind of rest, and there’s a hangover from feeling burnt out before. “Your body is actually just saying give me a lot more rest, recuperation and fuel to restore,” she explains.
Because even though we’re staying inside, that doesn’t mean our minds are rested.
“Coronavirus has been the perfect storm for an overactive stress response,” Bastine says. “And, if you’re waking up foggy-headed, you’re not getting enough quality sleep – this means before you went to bed you were still anxious.”
So what can we do? Bastine recommends these three essential tips for getting your mind and your body ready for a night of proper sleep, to help yourself feel fresher the next day.
Create a sleeping pattern
“You might need to catch up on some sleep but as a rule, don’t let it go over an hour either side of what it used to be, otherwise your body is going to be out of its circadian alignment. It varies on the person, but generally we need between seven and a half and nine and a half hours of sleep per 24-hour period. You don’t have to do this in a single eight-hour slot. Before the industrial revolution we used to sleep midnight to 5am and then have a long nap in the afternoon, so whatever works for you – but stick to it.”
Establish strict routines that mimic the life we had pre-corona
“Get up and change out of your lounge wear, have a shower and have your breakfast. Do all the things you did before. Similarly with your sleep pattern, try and keep to something close to what you had before. Make sure when you’re working, don’t work on your bed, work in a room that’s separate from sleeping. Create that structure.”
Make sure your evening involves both social interaction and a wind down period
“When you finish your work day, make sure you have your wind down period, that’s really important. We need to de-stress our minds. That’s why we’re feeling this way. So, talk to your friends and get some social interaction because that helps us to destress. Read a book, don’t just watch TV, make sure you get time away from screens. Have a bath or a shower before you go to bed. It all helps.”
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