SLEEP ISSUES AND CORONAVIRUS
As we try to navigate the day to day complexities of the Coronavirus pandemic and our new normal, it’s only natural to worry and this can cause you to have sleep issues. Many are experiencing uncertainty and a loss of control. People are afraid for themselves, their loved ones and their jobs. Coronavirus and sleep issues seem to be working together to cause even more problems.
The Coronavirus pandemic has created so much uncertainty in our lives, it’s leading to many disruptions and is taking a toll on our sleep. Good, quality sleep is essential. It is a key to wellness, both physical and mental, helping to beat back stress, depression, and anxiety.
Most adults need 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. But millions of people suffered from insomnia before the coronavirus, and unfortunately, the pandemic creates a host of new challenges even for people who previously had no sleeping problems.
Whether you’ve had sleeping problems before COVID-19, or if they’ve only come on recently, there are many steps that you can take to help improve your sleep quality during this global pandemic.
Improve Your Sleep Issues:
- Stick to a sleep schedule, roughly the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. This is also important for kids during the pandemic upheaval.
- Turn off technology before bedtime including the television, tablets, smartphones and other devices. The blue light that is emitted can delay the release of melatonin in the body, increase alertness and can even reset the body’s internal clock to a later schedule, disrupting the natural circadian rhythm. In addition the constant stream of bad news can make falling asleep difficult.
- Exercise daily. Regular physical activity can greatly improve the quality and duration of your sleep. It can also help control your stress and anxiety. However, exercising immediately before bed can stimulate your body, so be sure to finish your workout several hours before bed.
- If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine
- Try a calming app. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, try utilizing a relaxation app during the day to help with any anxiety, fear or apprehension. Don’t be afraid to incorporate some relaxation techniques into your bedtime ritual.
- Avoid or limit naps. Frequent napping can affect the quality of nighttime sleep. However, if you do enjoy a nap make sure it’s no longer than 30 minutes.
- Regulate temperatures. Make sure the temperature in your bedroom or home isn’t too hot. It’s been suggested that the optimal bedroom temperature should be between 66-69 degrees Fahrenheit for ideal sleeping conditions.
- Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you. Also, remove any objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up during the night.
- No food or drink right before bed. It’s best to avoid alcohol and stimulants like caffeine or nicotine. The effects of these items could last for hours and cause difficulty initiating sleep or even cause frequent awakenings. Also, try not to eat large meals or spicy food before retiring for the night. These could activate your digestive system, causing reflux or heartburn and keep you awake.
Look For the Good News
Despite all the bad news that you may come across, try to find some positive stories, such as how people are supporting one another through the pandemic. You can use technology to stay in touch with friends and family so that you can maintain social connections despite the need for social distancing.
Contact Your Doctor if Necessary
If you’re still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or to call one of our sleep medicine specialists here at Comprehensive Sleep Care Center. It could be a more serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea or chronic insomnia. Our doctors are available for virtual telehealth visits as well as in-person appointments.