The coronavirus pandemic is causing increased anxiety and stress among Brits. These worries are harassing us particularly at night when it is time to get a good night’s sleep. If your peaceful slumbers are interrupted by frightening nightmares, or you can’t get to sleep in the first place, it’s probably because you are stewing on concerns about the COVID-19 crisis. These thoughts will interrupt your sleep cycle and affect your quality of sleep, leaving you exhausted the next day. So how do you fix your sleep cycle? Express.co.uk chatted to pharmacist and advisor for DragonflyCBD Sultan Dajani to find out how.
What is a sleep cycle?
Sleep cycles are part of our internal biological “clocks”.
They are the regularly occurring patterns of brain waves which occur while we sleep.
Sultan said: “Sleep cycles vary for different life stages, but generally our sleep can be split into non-REM and REM phases (Rapid Eye Movement).
“Each sleep cycle generally lasts around 90 minutes.
He explained the non-REM phases consist of four stages:
We fall into a light sleep and our eye movements are slowed down.
We are still in a light stage, and the brain waves start to slow.
Stage three and four
The brain produces delta waves.
This is when you will start to experience a night of deeper and restorative sleep and the body starts to repair itself.
What happens during the REM stage?
Sultan said: “The REM sleep is the most active stage.
“Our eyes quickly move, our brain is active, our blood pressure and heart rate go up and it’s in this stage that we dream.
“The REM sleep is a phase that’s closely linked with mental recharge and is believed to play an important role in learning, memory, and emotion, helping to regulate mood.”
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What disturbs your sleep cycle?
Have you ever noticed yourself struggling to sleep or waking up exhausted after a heavy night out on the town?
This is because alcohol disturbs your sleep cycle, just like noises, changing shift patterns, and medication.
On top of this, worrying will affect your sleep cycle negatively.
Sultan explained: “Typical things that keep people awake at night with worry are money, relationships and health.
“During this lockdown period, all these feelings are heightened.
“People unsure about their income, worried about contracting COVID-19, and being indoors with the family or partners for a much more concentrated time period.
“This can put a strain on your relationships, which makes you even more stressed.
“All of this gives us much more to worry about, and even if people aren’t outwardly showing signs of stress this can manifest when our head hits the pillow and our brains start to subconsciously process our thoughts. “
What happens when your sleep cycle is interrupted?
When a sleep cycle is interrupted, your body will go back to the beginning and start going through the phases again, Sultan said.
if your sleep keeps getting interrupted, you may not reach the deep sleep stages.
He said: “Prolonged sleepless nights can impact both our mental and physical health.
“It can increase the risk of mental health and memory problems such as depression and anxiety as well as putting us at greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and even fertility issues.”
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Note things down
If anxious thoughts are preventing you from getting some shut-eye and you can’t stop going over your to-do list in bed, you should write it all down.
Sultan said: “One thing that can keep us awake at night is the thoughts that go through our heads.
“Sometimes it can be trying to remember them that actually keeps us from switching off properly.
“Keep a notepad handy and jot down any thoughts that come into your head as you get ready for bed.
“Also jot down the things you need to do the next day, this will help you ‘release’ them from your memory.”
It is important to remove all feelings of angst and fear before you go to bed.
Sultan said: “For me and many, taking a few drops of CBD as part of your daily routine ticks all the boxes for helping you feel relaxed, and that means better quality sleep that we all need.”
The World Health Organization has recognised that CBD may have the potential to help health issues such as anxiety and insomnia.
DragonflyCBD oil (£25 for 10ml and 300mg, Boots) in particular has been shown to reduce conditioned fear and anxiety.
Why not give it a try?
If your room is too hot or too cold, this will disturb your sleep cycle.
Sultan explained: “We need our bedrooms to be around 18C and 24C.
“This is the optimum temperature to help us fall asleep.”
If you’re guilty of bingeing your favourite Netflix series before bed, it’s time to stop.
Sultan said: “Playing on our phones, watching TV or using laptops too close to bedtime will impact our sleep.
“We need our brains to wind down before bed, and digital devices keep us alert.
“Try reading a book before bed and definitely don’t take digital devices to bed with you.”
It’s time to make use of your government-approved daily form of outdoor exercise.
Sultan said: “We are all observing social distancing, but getting fresh air helps us sleep.
“Even if just for 10 minutes, take a brisk walk around the block once a day to get a break from the living room and to get blood and oxygen flowing around the body.”
If you can’t leave your house, you should try to exercise indoors every day.
Sultan said: “It will help release endorphins, the happy hormones, which makes us feel better and more equipped to handle thing.
“This will give us a calmer mind when it comes to sleep.
“Exercise also expends energy, which will help us when it comes to sleep.”
Lavender is synonymous with relaxation and sleep.
Sultan said: “Essential oils have long been known to have powerful therapeutic properties, harnessing the power of nature to work with the body and promote a calm mind.
“Try Puressentiel Rest & Relax Air Spray, which has been clinically proven to help with a good night’s sleep.
“Or, treat yourself to a bath with Puressentiel Rest & Relax Bath Shower.
“Both products combine 12 essential oil to help with peaceful and restorative sleep.”
Plants are an easy way to boost your mood.
Sultan suggested: “Get some plants and put one in your bedroom – not only do they look great, they help purify the air, improving our moods and make us feel calm and less stressed.
“Try plants that require little looking after such as an aloe vera plant or an orchid.”
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