WITH the coronavirus pandemic disrupting sleeping patterns across the country, getting the recommended eight hours of sleep is proving more difficult than ever – and with the clocks going forward on March 28, our circadian rhythm is about to be reset.
Shaeeb Ali, advanced clinical practitioner and independent pharmacist prescriber at private healthcare service and online pharmacy MedsOnline247, shares his methods on how to get a good night’s sleep as British Summertime begins.
He said: “Although we only lose an hour’s worth of sleep when the clocks spring forward, moving time in either direction resets our circadian rhythm. This means that for a few days, our internal body clocks become out of sync with our normal day and time cycle.
“Some people will feel little effect from the clocks changing. However, for others, such as those already struggling with insomnia, the change is likely to be quite noticeable. There is a lot of uncertainty in the UK at the moment due to the pandemic and the third lockdown, which is likely to have a further influence on sleeping patterns.”
Preparing and resetting
“In the days approaching the clocks going forward, bring your bedtime forward slightly – just by 10 minutes or so each day. That way, when you lose an hour on Sunday, it won’t seem too bad.
“The biggest player in establishing day and night cycles is light, so expose yourself to natural or artificial light the following morning. This will help to suppress melatonin levels and make you feel less sleepy.
“If you feel tired in the afternoon, skip the nap and go outside for some fresh air to help reset your biological clock. And, as always, practise good sleep hygiene by limiting alcohol, caffeine and blue light intake from devices before bedtime.”
“Using medication can be a temporarily effective way to help you sleep, but it should only be taken for a short period of time and not be seen as a long-term solution, especially for recurring spells of insomnia.
“Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body and can be found in medication such as Circadin, which helps the body adjust its internal clock. It is often used by those who suffer from jet lag to adjust their sleeping patterns as a result of work schedule changes, and to help blind people establish a day and night cycle. Promethazine is a short-term form of relief and can also be used to help those suffering from insomnia.
“While sleeping aids can help people get the rest they need, it’s important that other steps are taken to minimise the need for them, such as supplements and herbal remedies.”
“If you’d prefer to try a more natural way to help you sleep, 5-HTP (5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan) is a health supplement and an amino acid that your body naturally produces. It produces serotonin, which can be converted into the hormone melatonin – playing an important role in regulating sleep. It’s a useful aid in helping a person in their sleep and also getting over the winter blues.
“Low blood levels of vitamin D are also associated with decreased sleep time and efficiency and increased daytime sleepiness. Our skin produces vitamin D through exposure to natural sunlight, so usually, we’d receive our daily intake by spending time outside. However, as a result of people spending more time indoors due to the government-ordered lockdowns, some may have been deprived of vitamin D.
“As a result, I see no harm in supplementing with vitamin D on a year-wide basis. Many years of safety data has shown that side effects are very likely to be non-existent for otherwise healthy individuals with no chronic diseases or conditions. However, the elderly and those who have diagnosed chronic conditions are at risk of overdosing and developing high calcium levels, also known as hypercalcaemia. Because of this, they should always consult a health professional prior to supplementing with vitamin D.”
“Another great and natural form of relief, that can help to settle you at night, is herbal remedies such as milk thistle. Traditionally used to treat stomach pain or indigestion, milk thistle contains silymarin – an active ingredient that can help to strengthen your immune system and has a range of health benefits.”
MedsOnline247 is a private healthcare service and online pharmacy, which offers patients a modern-day solution to receiving their prescriptions and lifestyle products directly to their door. The online platform, which operates nationally, stocks a variety of genuine medications and products to treat hundreds of conditions, and enables patients to consult with a professional medical prescriber from the comfort of their homes. The organisation, which was established in 2018, is regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
For more information on MedsOnline247, please visit www.medsonline247.co.uk or call 0333 577 3533 to speak to one of the private healthcare company’s experts.