Yes, you’re cooped up indoors all day.
But at night you go on all sorts of weird and wonderful adventures – in your dreams, where coronavirus isn’t a thing and you can run wild, buying all the toilet roll your heart desires.
If you’ve noticed you’re having strange dreams during lockdown, you’re not the only one – and there’s a reason.
Professor Mark Blagrove, a leading expert in sleep at Swansea University’s department of psychology, told PA that life in lockdown – and the stress caused by the pandemic – is likely to make your dreams more intense, emotional, or wild.
He said: ‘Many people will have experienced a change in their circumstances recently, and any type of stress may be dreamt about.
‘Some people will be having a life that is more boring than previously.
‘But there will be a lot of people who have more stress, possibly because they are with people who they wouldn’t spend so long with as a proportion of the day.’
He explains that there’s a metaphorical ‘replication of life in dreams’ which focuses on the ‘more emotional side’.
‘For a lot of people, they won’t dream about their working life because, generally, it’s not that interesting,’ he says.
‘But if the current situation gives people more interesting things happening, it may happen that people are dreaming more.’
And because we’re not commuting into an office, we’re more likely to be sleeping longer and having more opportunity for REM sleep, when dreams get longer.
Professor Blagrove notes: ‘Alarm clocks will often wake you up in the middle of a REM sleep period.
‘If you’re allowing the person to have the long sleep period, they could have longer dreams.
‘You are more likely to remember the dream if you have a longer sleep. If you have a longer sleep, you will have a longer dream.’
Professor Blagrove, who said he had started dreaming about his cat since spending more time at home, said dreams featuring coronavirus, isolation or money would suggest that they are important to the person emotionally.
There may also be an increase in people dreaming about somebody they have not spoken to or seen in a while ‘due to long times spent on social media’.
He added: ‘There’s going to be a lot of people having quite emotional dreams’.
While the pandemic may impact our dreams in a fun way, it can also have a negative impact on our sleep.
The strange and scary times we’re currently in will raise stress levels, making it harder to drift off and stay snoozing.
But when we’re trying to boost our immune system and slow the spread of disease, getting a good night’s rest is more important than ever.
We chatted to leading sleep psychologist Hope Bastine, who’s Simba’s resident sleep expert, for her advice on how to ensure your sleep patterns stay healthy during lockdown. Here’s what she said:
Establish a routine
‘Change in routine creates stress in the body and can also have a knock-on effect on your sleep cycle,’ says Hope.
‘Working from home can blur these boundaries, making it difficult for us to feel in control of our lives.’
Hope advises keeping your working hours as close to business as usual as possible, not treating your usual commute hours as ‘extra’ time to work, creating a dedicated workspace, and not working from your bed.
Make sure you keep a solid sleep routine too – wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day rather than trying to catch up on rest with long lie-ins.
Be careful with screens
‘As we know, light-based screens increase our exposure to artificial light and disrupt our circadian rhythm,’ Hope explains.
She recommends turning down the backlight on your devices, installing the Flux app on your laptop to reduce blue light levels, and having a no-screen rule for a couple of hours before bedtime.
Boost your vitamin D
Use your hour of exercise when the sun is out and keep your blinds open during the day to get plenty of exposure to natural light.
It might be worth taking vitamin D supplements while we’re in lockdown.
Try a weighted blanket
‘There is burgeoning evidence suggesting the benefits of being enveloped in a heavy cocoon can lower anxiety and stress levels thereby allowing us to settle down for a nice night’s sleep,’ says Hope.
You might find yourself struggling to drift off after a day of lounging. It’s so important to do some exercise and keep active so you’re actually tired at the end of the day.
Just 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise a day can increase your sleep quality by 65%.
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