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Sleep and Lockdown – Anxiety and Dreams

Job uncertainty and the stresses of life in lockdown is causing vivid and strange dreams across the country. Restless sleeping is contributing to anxiety and depression.

Feelings of exhaustion and lack of motivation is now commonplace for many, having no commute to work means extra time in bed. People are reporting they are finding it harder to wake up in the mornings, feeling fatigued when they do and throughout the day and that when they do sleep, they are plagued with strange and vivid dreams.

Professor Colin A Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Oxford University, explains that the changes to our lives as a result of lockdown measures are impacting our 24-hour sleep-wake cycles, known as circadian rhythms.

The role of natural outside light is important to how a person’s sleep cycle functions with receptors in the eyes reacting to white light from the sun, in short daylight trains our 24-hour body clock. The loss of light and changes in habit allows the body clock to drift and leads to malaise.

The importance of routine and daylight cannot be underestimated.

  • Go to sleep at your regular time
  • Don’t get into bed too early
  • Allow your sleep space to have low lighting
  • Keep to a routine during the day, including getting up at a normal time and getting dressed
  • Get daily exposure to day light
  • Avoid sleeping outside of your usual routine.

A person feeling fatigue (general tiredness, low mood, lack of energy) would be best suited to doing an activity rather than trying to sleep.

Dreams that make little sense is normal, but at times of stress we can have dreams that feel they have more emotional and anxious content. Keep to a healthy routine, with day light, exercise and structure to help improve your nights sleep.

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