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Can't get no sleep

Illustrations by Jessica Landon

Lack of shut-eye has been one side effect of a year spent anxiously on the sofa at home. But there’s no need to prop open your eyes with matchsticks any longer, says Joanna Taylor — a raft of new products, services and techniques is on hand to help

Remember those evenings slumped at the pub groaning about being on the edge of burnout? Well, we’re one year into house arrest and are frankly dying to be back there, glass in hand, complaining about Hugo in finance. But at least we’ve had a year of good sleep, right? Judging by the ever darkening circles under our eyes, apparently not. In fact, in a study by King’s College London, 63 per cent of Brits reported that their quality of sleep had worsened and 39 per cent said they’ve had fewer hours of shut-eye during the pandemic. Plus, a survey by Sanctuary Spa found more than two thirds of city sleepers were getting less than the recommended minimum seven hours per night since Covid-19 emerged.

Dominique Antiglio, sophrologist and sleep expert at BeSophro Clinics, says this is no surprise. ‘I have noticed an underlying anxiety among my clients due to all the uncertainty. Our routines, commute, the way in which we communicate and relate to friends, family and colleagues has changed, there is a greater influx of news to absorb, all of which trigger stress and anxiety, which is bound to have an effect on our sleep.

And although some of us may be less physically tired, we may well be mentally spent. Those with less to do during the day may also be less stimulated, yet we need that stimulation [to tire us out].’ Health coach Charlène Gisèle also believes that our collective ‘sleep deprivation is worse due to increased screen time’, and our blue light usage is up ‘because of Zoom and endless time spent on laptops and phones’.

If the rigmarole of lockdown isn’t proving tough enough on the snooze front, a study by UCL also found that one in seven of us has been boozing more during lockdown, a habit that can affect one’s sleep patterns, according to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley. ‘In order to have a settled night’s sleep, our body temperature has to drop by one degree. As alcohol is high in calories, our system tries to burn it off as soon as we consume it. This creates heat, making it difficult to lower the body temperature so tossing, turning and sweating is inevitable.’

What’s more, our dreams have been less sweet and more intense, says Stanley. ‘Since being in lockdown, many people have been experiencing dreams that seem more vivid. We dream during REM sleep and in fact, everyone dreams four to five times a night, but we can only remember a dream if we wake up during it. If our sleep is disturbed, as it may be at the moment due to anxiety and worry, then we may remember them in more detail than normal.’

With 21 June and its tentative freedoms approaching (albeit at a glacial pace), it’s safe to say that hope is on the horizon. But in the meantime, if you’re finding yourself seeking a little more sleep, here are the fast hacks to optimise your 40 winks.

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The tech

Snoring bed buddy killing your vibe? Invest in an incredibly comfy pair of Bose Noise Masking Sleep Buds (£229.95), which cancel noise-pollution but won’t let you miss your alarm.

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The spray

Create a tranquil, restful environment with a spritz of the Sanctuary Spa Sleep Mist (£12), which had 70 per cent of testers claiming they had a better night’s sleep during trials.

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The escape

Need a change of scenery? Venture over to The Cadogan hotel from 17 May to indulge in The Sleep Concierge, where a pillow menu, relaxation teas and a meditative soundtrack will help you doze off.

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CLICK TO FIND OUT MORE

The oil

If you’re one for a pre-bedtime shower, lather yourself up with Neal’s Yard Beauty Sleep Shower Oil (£19.50), filled with relaxing ylang ylang, patchouli, clary sage and cypress scents.

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