Sleep: Why am I feeling so tired in lockdown?
The UK has been in lockdown since Monday, March 23, meaning we have been cooped up indoors for the best part of five weeks. You’d think that less time running in the rat race, sweating buckets in the gym, and dancing the night away in clubs would leave you feeling energised and fit as a fiddle. So why do we all feel drained when all we are doing is sitting on the sofa and relaxing at home? Express.co.uk chatted to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley to find out the answers.
Why do I feel tired all the time?
Dr Stanley explained: “People who are experiencing tiredness may be waking up too early for their body’s biological clock.
“Research from 23andMe revealed that Brits’ average natural genetic wake up time is 7.55am – if your alarm is set to go off before this then you could be someone who is more of a ‘night owl’ which may be the reason why you’re feeling lethargic.
“This feeling of grogginess and disorientation is also known as sleep inertia and can last anywhere between 15 minutes and two hours after waking up. “
According to the NHS website, feeling sleepy all the time is extremely common and there are a few other reasons to explain it.
The site said before you chat with your GP, you should try and work out what is making you feel so tired. You should consider:
• parts of your life, such as work and family, that might be particularly tiring
• any events that may have triggered your tiredness, such as bereavement or a relationship break-up
• how your lifestyle may be making you tired
It’s safe to say that everyone’s lifestyle has taken a turn recently.
Maybe you are overworking yourself and putting in extra hours while working from home?
Perhaps home-schooling the kids is draining? Or maybe you are spending too long staring at the television screen?
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Why do I feel tired when I haven’t done anything?
Dr. Stanley says the change in routine from normal life to lockdown may be causing tiredness.
He said: “It’s important to keep your brain and body active during the day; a lack of stimulation or movement can contribute to feelings of fatigue.
“A change in routine can also upset your circadian rhythm, causing you to feel more tired.
“So, if you’re waking up later than normal, because you no longer need to commute into work, then it may be because your body isn’t yet used to its new routine.
How do I stop myself from feeling tired?
Dr Stanley offered a few tips to break the cycle.
He advised: “Try getting yourself into a new routine, waking up at the same time every day.
“This will help your brain to anticipate your waking and be ready to hit the ground running.
“This also means you won’t have to rely on an alarm clock to get you up in the morning – alarms can startle you from sleep, increasing your heart rate and stress levels.
“Keep a glass of water by your bed so you can rehydrate yourself in the morning and try exposing yourself to sunlight soon after waking. This will help to keep your circadian rhythm in sync.”
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Does exercise make you more tired?
Exercise may actually wake you up instead of tiring you out.
Dr Stanley explained: “Exercise is a good way of telling the body that it is time to be awake, especially if you do it in the morning.
“Working out outside in daylight also helps to make you feel more awake as sunlight is the main zeitgeber (time-giver) for our bodies and brains keeping our circadian rhythms in sync.
“Exercise as long as you cool down afterwards before you go to bed can improve sleep quality as it increases the time spent in deep sleep.
“It also helps to reduce stress which could in turn make falling asleep much easier.”
How much sleep should I be getting?
We’ve all heard the ‘eight hours of sleep’ rule, but is it true?
Dr Stanley said: “The amount of sleep you need differs for everyone, but the average adult should aim to get between seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
“The study from 23andMe reveals that a fifth of Brits have been struggling to get to sleep since being in lockdown.
“It’s important to develop a calming wind-down routine in the evening, perhaps by having a bath or reading a good book.
“I’d also recommend leaving any electronics out of the bedroom for at least 40 minutes before lights out.
“The blue light emitted from electronics suppresses the release of melatonin which is the brain’s signal to fall asleep, so avoid using phones and tablets as much as you can.”
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