This is normally a time of year when we might gather at the roadside and root for friends, colleagues or loved ones as they put themselves through the gruelling experience of running a marathon – or we might even run one ourselves.
While the breadth and intensity of sporting events has increased in recent years, there’s no argument about the fact that marathon running is still one of the toughest endurance events there is and April usually sees one the most famous marathons take place here on home soil.
But not this year.
Delayed until October, the postponement of the 40th London Marathon has seen many runners making use of their training to complete endurance challenges closer to home be it for charity, to stay on top of their fitness or simply as a positive focus for themselves and others.
The reality is that the fight that we find ourselves in against Covid-19 is likewise a marathon, not a sprint. There’s an old saying that ‘what can’t be cured must be endured’ and this particularly resonates in the here and now.
In whatever you’re experiencing right now – whether the psychological challenge of living a life locked down, or facing new challenges as a key worker, or under indescribable pressure as a critical health worker – this virus is an endurance event in a league of its own.
Serious runners know that, while there’s a place for ice immersion, compression gear, analgesics and cryotherapy to aid marathon recovery, by far the best and most natural way to help your body recover from stress, repair damage to muscles and restore depleted energy reserves is by sleeping.
Sleep is similarly key to our ability to endure the current situation we find ourselves in now. So, how can we protect our body’s natural recovery system at this time? At Millbrook Beds, we have three simple tips for sleeping during lockdown:
1. See the light
Natural sunlight during the daytime helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy by not only improving daytime energy, but also helping us to sleep well when the day is done. So during lockdown, it’s important to maximise your exposure to natural daylight by taking your allotted exercise time outdoors if possible, spending time in the garden if you have one, reading by the window and consciously letting as much natural light into your day as you can.
Exercise is not only a hugely effective way of managing anxiety, it also helps us stay motivated and supports healthy sleep too – especially when exercise forms part of a regular routine. So, design your lockdown routine around regular movement (breaking it down into manageable chunks if you’re not at marathon fitness!) and consciously burn off any excess energy caused by anxiety before bedtime comes.
3. Try something new
If getting to sleep is a problem for you at the moment, be open to trying something new to help you relax as bedtime rolls around. Switch off the news and tune into a comedy podcast for some light relief. Put down your phone and instead pick up pen to diarise positive thoughts and anecdotes. Take your hands off duty from the jobs that you’ll easily have time for tomorrow and, instead, treat yourself to a soothing five-minute hand massage.
We can’t run from the realities of Covid-19. But, as this is a marathon, we need to take our sleep seriously to give ourselves what we need to endure this race.