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Building Resilience With Sleep

Oct 18, 2021

Currently studying for a Masters in Sleep Medicine at the University of Oxford, GP and one of our Advisory Board members, Jonathan Sunkersing explains why sleep is so vital in today’s world…

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in dramatic changes in people’s lives including more stress, anxiety, social isolation and increased time in homes. Resilience is a popular term being used in the healthcare setting describing the ability to adapt and move forward from stress, adversity or trauma. We all face challenges in life. One way of building resilience is through good sleep. A good night’s sleep does not only help us feel well physically, but is also important for our emotional health.

As we develop healthy sleep patterns the brain learns and processes information. Some information or clutter is cleared out and other important events are formed as memories. Quality sleep has benefits in improving creativity, our decision making, impulse control and emotional reactions; all of which are key components of resilience.

A good night’s sleep should leave us feeling ready to begin the day and refreshed. However, so many of us struggle to prioritise sleep. In the short term, poor sleep can result in concentration difficulties, daytime sleepiness and feeling negative. In the long term, poor sleep can result in increased risks of heart disease, mental health problems, diabetes and many other medical conditions. How can we get a good night’s sleep regularly?

Some of the most methods to help sleep better and build resilience are the simplest. Here are some ideas to try:

  1. Reduce stress. Exercise helps us sleep better, but also has many health benefits. Breathing exercises before bed can help us prepare to sleep and enable us to remove focus from stress. Several studies suggest that taking a warm bath around 90 minutes before bedtime helps people relax but also sleep better.
  2. Make changes in the bedroom. Create a space that is relaxing. Sometimes we have screens or ambient light waking us early – eye masks or blackout blinds can help encourage sleep. Earplugs and apps that play peaceful noises are available that can block noises that keep us awake.
  3. Follow a sleep routine. This is a cornerstone of developing resilient sleep. Aim to go to bed the same time every night and wake the same time each day – even weekends.

Strong sleep

Healthy sleep is achievable and we are only just waking up to the potential benefits of prioritising sleep. It takes practice, repetition and effort, but the rewards are immense. Every step forward builds healthy habits that can benefit you for a lifetime. Sleep will help us all become more resilient and bounce back from this pandemic in better health.