We get up later and wake up more often without an alarm clock. The corona crisis also affects our sleeping habits. In the section Healthy or not health journalist Tijn Elferink delves into a subject about which there is confusion. This time: do we sleep better because of the lockdown?
“The corona crisis offers sleeping options that better match our biological clock,” says somnologist Ingrid Verbeek of the Kempenhaeghe Center for Sleep Medicine. “Suppose you are an evening person and you prefer to sleep from midnight to 8 am, but you have to be at work by 8:30 am and you also have half an hour of travel time. Working from home makes it easier to sleep at your own pace. and that offers advantages. “
We sleep in cycles of about an hour and a half. Each cycle consists of four phases: the slumber phase, the light sleep, the deep sleep and the dream sleep. On average we go through four to five cycles per night. You feel most rested when you wake up at the end of such a cycle. “The alarm clock can brutally disrupt a cycle,” says Verbeek, PhD, somnologist sleep therapist. “That can make you feel hungover.”
“If you sleep too short, you can suffer from it during the day.”
Ingrid Verbeek, somnologist
Those who do not set an alarm can wake up naturally. This usually happens after the dream phase when the brain is very active. Especially at the end of the night when you have paid off your sleep debt, it is easier to wake up. “A wake-uplight can speed up natural awakening without disturbing sleep,” says the somnologist. “Because the light is getting brighter, you will sleep lighter.”
The disappearance of social activities in the evening can also have a positive effect for some, Verbeek knows. “We don’t have an on / off switch for sleeping. Build your day, you do that by getting fewer stimuli. If you hit your gas pedal until bedtime, you will fall asleep less easily.”
Sleeping isn’t just for the faint of heart
Verbeek also sees people who sleep longer because of the lockdown. “There are people who say that sleeping is for wimps,” says Verbeek. “That is really nonsense. If you sleep too short, you can suffer from it during the day. So-called short sleepers can get by with five to six hours of sleep, but the average Dutch person sleeps a little longer than seven hours.”
Doctor Kasper Janssen also sees that we get up later and sleep longer. “Scientific research and data from sports watch manufacturer Polar show that during the corona crisis we go to bed later, sleep more and sleep better.” The sports doctor, who specializes in recovery, also sleeps better. “The road I live next to is quieter than usual, so I sleep deeply longer.”
Corona crisis also has negative effects on sleep
Both experts see that the corona crisis also has negative effects on sleep. For example, stress, a disturbed work-life balance and poorly equipped home workplaces have negative consequences for your sleep rhythm. “As a health and safety doctor, I spoke to a man who works from his bed behind his laptop,” says Janssen. “These are sickening examples. Employers will have to more actively investigate how an employee’s home workplace is set up.”
“Sufficient exercise has a positive effect on sleep.”
Kasper Janssen, sports physician
The most important sleeping tip, according to Verbeek, is structure and regularity. “Take breaks during the day, stop working in the evening and get up at the same time every day. Also on weekends.” In addition, sufficient light during the day is important for a good sleep rhythm. “Go outside during the breaks,” says Janssen. “Sufficient exercise also has a positive effect on sleep.” Verbeek: “Don’t make a pot of tea, but walk to the kitchen for each cup. Then you move more.”
Working from home can work out well, especially for evening people. Getting up later is better suited to their biological clock. And waking up from yourself instead of an alarm clock that suddenly takes you out of dreamland is better for your night’s sleep. The body then awakens at a natural moment: at the end of a sleep cycle.