Lockdown Lethargy - Why Lockdown Makes You Tired
Updated: Jul 10
Have you been feeling exhausted even though you've not been active? Can't seem to get going but you're actually doing less than before we went into lockdown? It doesn't make sense, does it?
It's very normal to feel that you need a bit of time to get going in the morning - we all need to 'warm-up' before we tackle our day. It's known as sleep inertia. You've not quite woken up, sleep is still hanging around and you need some space to get your breakfast before anyone speaks to you. But since we've been in lockdown it seems that more people are experiencing this and for longer periods of time too, this inertia seems to go on and on all day.
Understand a bit of the science behind it and what you need to do to correct it will become as clear as day!
When we sleep we need the sleep hormone melatonin, and we need this to keep us asleep too. It shuts off during the day and knows it needs to be released only at night when it's dark. If you're not getting enough natural daylight then melatonin is not sure if it should shut off or not so you will continue to feel sleepy because of this chemical response in your body.
The best thing to do is get some natural light on your head first thing in the morning - this will help reset your natural body rhythm. It shuts off the melatonin. Internal lights just don't have the same effect so make sure it is natural daylight.
The body needs to move, you need to be active. It's good for the muscles, your circulation and your vital organs. The caveman was out hunting and gathering all day and enjoyed the relaxation when he came back to the camp. Then rest was the signal for sleep, but if you haven't done anything all day you'll feel restless. Movement also creates a routine for the day and signals to the body that this is active daytime - night time is rest and sleep time.
In lockdown we've been restricted with our general routines and movement but get moving physically, even if you feel tired, it will give you more energy overall. In fact, you may have to pay more attention to your levels of activity as our inconsequential movements have been restricted. You don't have to run a half marathon, just take a good long walk, do some gardening, play with the kids. Get your body physically tired so that you will be ready for sleep when it comes to bedtime.
My favourite subject! Like most things in life, it's about quality, not quantity. At least to begin with, get the quality right and the quantity will come. If you have good quality sleep at night you should feel refreshed and restored in the morning. Make sure you have a good wind-down routine, watch your caffeine intake, unplug from devices well before bedtime.
Also, try and wake up at the same time every day. Too much sleep is not good for you either. The mind loves routine so try and keep to a good timetable for the day and you'll reap the rewards at night.
It's easier said than done I know, but try not to get stressed. The effects of stress on the body are draining, your adrenal glands are pumping adrenaline, your heart races that bit faster, your guts are churning. It's the 'fight or flight' response. Being constantly alert is exhausting. Your body needs to counteract that stress and needs to recover. If you're not giving it the chance then you will feel sluggish all the time.
Find things that help you to relax. What are your positive activities, who are your positive interactions with? All these things help you remember what is good for you and give you a boost of the happy hormone serotonin.
Overall it's now getting a bit draining for all of us, even I've had my off days! But small steps to maintain body and mind will make all the difference. Once you feel energised and refreshed you'll know it's worth it. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, we're nearly there!
Gin Lalli firstname.lastname@example.org
Gin Lalli is a Solution Focused Therapist specialising in anxiety, depression, stress and sleep. She is based in Edinburgh, Scotland