Lockdown due to COVID-19 has had a significant impact on people’s sense of sleep quality across Australia and particularly in Melbourne. Associate Professor Darren Mansfield from the Monash Health Lung and Sleep team explains:
“Poor sleep affects your emotional resilience which is really important in uncertain times. Continuous and restorative sleep is really needed right now for our cognitive functioning, productivity and best mental functioning,” said Darren.
“Healthy sleep is the third pillar of a healthy lifestyle alongside healthy eating and exercise. So now is the time to start raising awareness about healthy sleep to create a healthier and happier Australia.”
In 2019, wanting to raise awareness and funding for sleep health, the Monash Lung and Sleep department initiated the Pyjama Fun Run. More than 500 people took part in the event which was held at Princes Park.
In 2020, Darren and the team were faced with a new issue – how to hold a participation event in the time of COVID-19?
With many events turning to the virtual space, the team came up with a new twist – ‘PJ Your Way’ – the opportunity to set a personal challenge to be completed in your pyjamas. All in the name of sleep health and mental health.
“PJ Your Way is about planning an activity in your pyjamas, registering, seeking sponsors and having an impact,” said Darren.
“In the week of 2-8 November, we’re calling on friends, colleagues and the general public to take on the challenge. It could be attending a day of Webex or Zoom meetings in your night attire or doing the supermarket shopping or walking the dog in your PJs.”
The fundraising focus for this year’s virtual event is research into sleep health and the implications for mental health.
“The links between sleep health and mental health are well established, but more research needs to be done. Research is particularly needed about sleep and vulnerable communities – people who are mentally unwell, older people and children. Poor sleep has a great capacity to destabilise health.”
Read more about PJ Your Way at www.pyjamafunrun.org.
Darren’s top tips for better sleep health during COVID-19:
- There can be a tendency to go to bed earlier than usual and getting up a little later. Optimal sleep opportunity is really important. However, be careful of too much time in bed also as that can lead to a lot more awakenings.
- Try to maintain consistent bed and wake-up time aligned with the number of hours of sleep you really need.
- Remember that alcohol leads to a lot more wakefulness in the second half of the night.
- Get a good amount of exercise every day. If possible aim for early evening exercise 4-6 hours before your bed time for optimal effect.