5 Tips for Improved Sleep, Performance and Motivation During Lockdown

Covid-19 and the lockdown it’s caused has changed life for many, with lots of people working from home or being furloughed. A poll we recently conducted on Twitter found that these changes have negatively impacted sleep for 52% of people. Luckily there are many simple tips you can implement from the R90 Technique to improve sleep, recovery, performance, mood and motivation (something we may all be lacking during this time).

Constant Wake and Sleep Time

Choose a constant wake time which you stick to everyday, this should be at least 90 minutes before you have to work or complete other daily commitments. You should also have a constant sleep time. To work out your ideal sleep time, count backwards from your wake time in 90 minute cycles for 5 cycles (7.5 hours) to begin with, you can then reduce or increase your cycles if needed.

Sticking to a constant wake and sleep time keeps your body in a familiar routine which will allow you to sleep easier and waking at the end of a sleep cycle will mean you wake feeling refreshed.

Pre- and Post-Sleep Routines

Pre- and post-sleep routines can improve the quality of your sleep and performance, whilst reducing fatigue levels during the day. Your pre-sleep routine should begin 90 minutes before your sleep time and should contain some simple activities that are going to get you ready for sleep. For example, you can write down anything important that happened during your day or write a to-do list for the following day. You should also avoid blue light (from technology) and make your room slightly colder (16 - 18C) than the rest of your house if possible, so you are moving into a cooler environment. Always keep your pre-sleep routine the same, this lets your body know it is time for sleep.

A post-sleep routine should last for 90 minutes from when you wake and will set you up for the day. During this time make sure you are exposed to as much daylight as possible and take time to eat breakfast, do some gentle exercises and tasks around the house before work or daily activities.

Use Blue Light to Reduce Daytime Fatigue

Use blue light to combat fatigue during the day. Blue light (daylight) is important as it stimulates serotonin production, which is our wake hormone, this can then be converted during the evening to melatonin, which is our sleep hormone. Going outside, being by a window or using artificial blue light such as a daylight lamp can all increase your blue light exposure.

Have Regular Recovery Breaks 

Split your day up into 90 minute segments from when you wake and aim to have small recovery breaks every 90 minutes to help combat daytime fatigue. These do not have to be major breaks, just a quick break from what you are doing to give your mind time to recover. These regular recovery breaks will add up during the course of the day to reduce fatigue and increase alertness.

Know Your Chronotype

A chronotype describes your sleeping characteristic – whether you’re a morning (Amer) or evening person (Pmer). This not only indicates the times you get up and go to bed, but also the times that your body wants to perform functions outlined in the circadian rhythms.

So, how do you figure out your chronotype? Sleeping characteristics are usually easy to spot. Do you like staying up and going to bed late? Do you need an alarm to get up for work in the morning? Are you partial to a nap in the daytime? Do you often sleep in on your days off? Then it’s likely that you’re a Pmer. Amers wake naturally, enjoy their breakfast and love the mornings. They tend not to need an alarm to wake them, they’re less likely to feel fatigued during the day and they go to bed reasonable early.

Now you know your chronotype you can begin to manage it to improve your productivity and wellbeing. For a Pmer, daylight in the morning is vital if you want to set your body clock to play catch up with the Amers. Get a dawn-wake stimulator, open the curtains and go outside. Pmers should also cut out lie-ins at the weekend, if you spend all week adjusting your body clock to the demands of your job, then let it all go at the weekend, you clock will drift back to its natural, slower state. Amers should utilise daylight during the afternoon when they begin to feel fatigued.

If you have the ability to plan your day, you should keep in mind when you’re going to be the most alert. For Amers this is during the mornings, whilst for the Pmers it’s the afternoon. Try to schedule any important tasks for when you are most alert for improved performance.