Since the start of the lockdown, Karmeron McIntyre has been plagued by exhaustion and sharp, vivid dreams.
“I feel like I haven’t even slept. I feel like I have experienced something mentally turbulent, “said the 27-year-old.
Mr. McIntyre, who lives in London but is originally from Ireland, was in vacations from his work in a clothing store. Her dreams, fatigue and the uncertainty surrounding her work all contribute to her anxiety and depression.
“I feel exhausted, literally exhausted, I literally have no motivation to do anything,” he told Sky News.
“Some of the dreams that I have had recently are very much alive … I have had a dream all my loved ones are dead and I think my big concern about it is that I am stuck here. “
He is not alone.
For the majority of Britons, everyday life now sees people staying at home, inside for most if not all of the day. Not going to work means extra time in bed and no open pub means there is less reason to stay out late.
Despite this, many people report having more difficulty waking up in the morning, feeling tired during the day, and when they fall asleep at night have strange and vivid dreams.
Professor Colin A Espie, professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford, explains that changes in our lives as a result of lockout measures have an impact on our 24-hour sleep-wake cycles, known as circadian rhythms.
“I have certainly noticed more people with sleep problems,” Professor Espie told Sky News.
“There is a lot of talk about staying well during the day by staying at home and taking care of yourself, but it’s also important to stay well at night. “
He adds: “Sleep is at the heart of our lives and because it happens automatically, we take it for granted. Now we are in the same place [most of the day] it’s easy for sleep and wakefulness to merge. “
This, he says, is equivalent to “dampening” our circadian rhythms and can make people tired during the day and feel unusually groggy in the morning.
The role of natural outdoor light is important in how a person’s sleep cycle works with the receptors in our eyes that react most strongly to white sunlight.
Professor Espie explained, “We use daylight as an element that drives our 24-hour biological clock.
“People get less daylight and don’t get up as early. This loss of light and this change of habit allows the biological clock to drift and can cause a feeling of discomfort.
“It is important to maintain a routine and have daylight. It means getting up at the usual time, unless it is very early, getting dressed, etc.
“It helps keep the pace, and if you’re exercising outside, do it early in the day to get the most out of the outdoor light early.” “
Professor Espie has suggested a series of tips to improve a person’s sleep cycle:
Sleep at your usual convenient time, whether you’re an early bird or a night owl
Do not go to bed too early, just before you expect to sleep
Allow your sleeping space to have low light
If a person cannot sleep, they should get out of bed and do something else for a short time before trying again.
Follow a routine during the day, including getting up at a normal time and getting dressed
Get daily exposure to daylight, whether through exercise or even just standing in front of your front door.
It is also important to avoid sleeping outside of your regular routine.
“It is easy to eat more than you need, but it is difficult to sleep more than what you need.” Sleeping outside normal hours will cause a person’s sleep pattern to fragment and make it more difficult, often making sleep lighter, “said Professor Espie.
Sleepy people may yawn or fall asleep involuntarily and should consider rest or a short nap.
But a person who feels tired (general tiredness, low mood, lack of energy) would be better suited to do an activity rather than trying to sleep, to follow a daily routine and to have enough daylight.
Sleeping out of turn due to fatigue can make it harder to sleep at night, which can fuel the anxiety and stress that many are already experiencing during this pandemic.
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Professor Espie explains: “When people panicked to buy food, it is because the threat of not having food is alarming. You can compare this to if people also think they can’t sleep, then they worry that they won’t be able to.
“When you sleep well, you don’t think about it, it’s only when things go wrong and the more you try to sleep, the more difficult it can seem to be.” “
It doesn’t just have an impact on the people who stay inside most of the day. Key workers, including those who first lines to fight coronaviruses, are also experiencing changes in their sleep.
Steph Barker, 26, cardiac physiologist at NHS, said to Sky News: “Once you get home, you can’t face anything else because it’s so much effort to think of anything. “
She said she had unusual dreams.
“There was one where I went to see a musical, then suddenly the main actress got sick and it turned out that I was the understudy, but I did not know the lines”, a- she explained.
Professor Espie explains that dreams occur in REM sleep (rapid eye movement), the first episode of which occurs about 60 minutes after falling asleep, repeating itself throughout the night.
He said that dreams that didn’t make sense are normal, but added, “In times of stress, however, we might have dreams that seem to have more emotional or anxious content.
“And of course, we’re probably a little bit more anxious than usual right now. It should not surprise us that we are the same person as we are awake or asleep. That’s pretty much all that is going on. “
But, he warned, there is a risk that dreams can be over-analyzed.
“There are people who push the interpretation of dreams too far,” he said.
“I’ve seen so much nonsense about this in the media. The people who do this have little or no understanding of the science of sleep combined with a lot of confidence in their opinions.
“We shouldn’t bother listening to them. “