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SLEEP ISSUES AND CORONAVIRUS

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.

Coronasomnia

It’s not Insomnia. It’s CORONASOMNIA

Yes, it is a real thing

 

Are you quarantined alone or with a houseful of kids? Are you working full-time or searching for a new job? The stresses caused by Coronavirus are real and it is causing us to lose sleep. It’s called Coronasomnia and yes, it is a real thing.

I do my best to keep a regular schedule. I try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day like the experts recommend. But on many nights (especially if I watch the news before bed), as soon as my head hits the pillow, my mind goes into overdrive. I am wide awake wracked with anxiety about  Coronavirus. I worry about my family. Those that live far away, those that live close by, but I can’t visit. I worry about my job. I worry about my friends that own small businesses and restaurants. What is going to happen? What can I do to help? What if I get sick? When is this ever going to end?

I thought it was just insomnia but it’s not. It’s Coronasomnia!

Clearly, I am not alone in this. Everyone I know is having sleep issues. They ask me for my advice because I work at a sleep center. I tell them it is Coronasomnia; an epidemic inside of a pandemic! Even children are starting to feel the stress and it is causing sleep issues for them. Try getting a teenager to adhere to a sleep schedule, or any schedule, when there is no school or sports.

Although the pandemic has only been around for a few months, experts are already seeing an impact. A poll released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that nearly half of Americans (48%) are anxious about the possibility of getting Coronavirus (COVID-19), and nearly four in ten Americans (40%) are anxious about becoming seriously ill or dying from Coronavirus. But far more Americans (62%) are anxious about the possibility of family and loved ones getting Coronavirus.

More than one-third of Americans (36%) say Coronavirus is having a serious impact on their mental health and most (59%) feel Coronavirus is having a serious impact on their day-to-day lives.

Lack of sleep can affect your immune system

It is a never-ending cycle. Stress causes sleep deprivation and insomnia which makes you more stressed. Then the news and life’s uncertainties add to that stress. Here is an even bigger problem; lack of sleep can affect your immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. Great double the trouble!

There are several key factors that are likely contributing to Coronasomnia sleep issues

  • Information overload from news sources and other media
  • Excessive exposure to screens; blue light from screen inhibits your body’s natural release of melatonin, which can make it harder to fall asleep
  • Loss of daytime routines and structure; less consistent bedtimes and wake times
  • Depressed mood and daytime napping can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night

I know many of us feel like there is nothing we can do but just deal with it and hope it goes away when things finally get better. The problem is that insomnia can have a significant impact on our health. So, what can we do to try and get the 7-8 hours of quality sleep we need?

Here are some tips that may help you get a better night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule – the same bedtime and wake up time. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  • Limit your exposure to the news especially right before bed
  • Decrease screen time before bed – blue light from screens can interfere with your circadian rhythms and decrease your melatonin levels.
  • Wind down. Your body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as taking a bath or reading. Try practicing a relaxing bedtime ritual.A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Avoid naps- Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help.
  • Exercise daily- Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity.
  • Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 65 and 68 degrees. Check your room for noises or other distractions. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.

If you’re still having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or to call one of my sleep medicine specialists here at Comprehensive Sleep Care Center. As much as Coronavirus related sleep issues are common and understandable, we all need to get a decent night’s sleep to stay healthy.

Written by Sharon Goldman, Marketing Manager at Comprehensive Sleep Care Center

SLEEP, STRESS AND THE CORONAVIRUS

SLEEP, STRESS AND THE CORONAVIRUS

In times of crisis and stress, sometimes our basic needs go out the window. Everyone is struggling with the myriad of changes in our daily lives due to COVID-19. From healthcare workers and first responders working extra-long hours. A parent at home with children, struggling to keep them busy. Or those locked down at home binge watching shows day and night. It feels like the whole world has changed in the past few weeks.

These stresses can significantly impact the quality and duration of our sleep. Lack of sleep, whether from added stress or a significant change in your daily schedule, can have a severe impact on our physical and mental health at a time when we need to be our strongest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35.2 percent of adults in the United States are getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night. Experts recommend that adults aim for 7–9 hours of sleep a night. So, what can we do to try and improve our sleep quality during these troubled times?

It can be easy to lose sight of how changes in our daily habits influence our ability to sleep well. The concept of sleep hygiene focuses on how to use your habits and routines to your advantage when it comes to sleep. It also includes optimizing your sleep environment so that you can relax and rest easy when you turn in for the night.

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule with the same bedtime and wake up time.This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night.
  2. Exercise daily even light exercise is better than no activity at all.
  3. Evaluate your roomDesign your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
  4. Wind down and place a moratorium on TV and Social MediaYour body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. Set a moratorium on news and social media each night. The constant stress of the world will only add to your stress level and keep your mind working overtime when you should be sleeping.
  5. Get some sunshine. It may seem counterintuitive, given our recommendation about the importance of sleeping in a dark room, but a daily dose of sunshine can actually help you sleep better. Our sleep-wake cycle is closely connected to our circadian rhythms. Your brain relies on sunshine during the day to recognize it’s time to be awake and alert. The more natural light you receive, the more your body stays in tune to the regular day-night rhythms, and your brain learns to associate the darkness that comes in the evening with falling asleep.
  6. If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tiredIt is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy 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

Stress and sleep are closely linked. We hope that these trying times soon will pass. But if your sleep issues continue, it is important to see a sleep medicine professional to get a thorough evaluation to help identify the possible cause. Stay safe out there.