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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.

INSOMNIA -Why Can’t I Sleep?

INSOMNIA-Why can’t I sleep?

Insomnia is a problem for many during normal times, but factor in a pandemic and global unrest and it has become much more widespread. Insomnia is a sleep disorder where a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and/or they wake up too early in the morning. Insomnia can drain your energy level and mood, but also negatively impact your health, work performance and quality of life. How much sleep you need varies from person to person, but most adults need seven to eight hours a night.

Insomnia is characterized based on its duration. Acute Insomnia typically lasts short-term while Chronic Insomnia can last a long time.

Acute Insomnia

Lasts from one night to a few weeks and can come and go. It often happens due to life’s circumstances (Coronosomnia) or when you can’t fall asleep the night before an exam or after receiving stressful or bad news. Many people experience short term insomnia and it tends to resolve without any major treatment.

Chronic Insomnia

Happens at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more. It can have many causes. Changes in the environment, unhealthy sleep habits, shift work, certain medications and medical disorders can lead to a long-term pattern of sleep deprivation.

Insomnia Symptoms may Include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Ongoing worries about sleep

Common Causes of Insomnia Include:

  • Stress-Concerns about work, school, health, finances or family can keep your mind active at night, making it difficult to sleep. Stressful life events or trauma also may lead to insomnia.
  • Travel or work schedule-Your circadian rhythms act as an internal clock, guiding such things as your sleep-wake cycle, metabolism and body temperature. Disrupting your body’s circadian rhythms can lead to insomnia. Causes include jet lag, working a late or early shift, or frequently changing shifts.
  • Poor sleep habits-Poor sleep habits include an irregular bedtime schedule, naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, and using your bed for work, eating or watching TV. Computers, TVs, video games, smartphones or other screens just before bed can interfere with your sleep cycle.
  • Eating too much late in the evening-Having a light snack before bedtime is OK, but eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable. Many people also experience heartburn which may keep you awake.
  • Mental health issuesAnxiety disorders may disrupt your sleep. Insomnia often occurs with other mental health disorders as well.
  • Medications-Many prescription drugs can interfere with sleep, such as certain antidepressants and medications for asthma or blood pressure. Many over-the-counter medications such as some allergy and cold medications, and weight-loss products can contain caffeine and other stimulants that can disrupt sleep.
  • Medical conditions- Examples of conditions linked with insomnia include chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), overactive thyroid, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Sleep-related disordersSleep apnea causes you to stop breathing periodically throughout the night, interrupting your sleep. Restless legs syndrome causes unpleasant sensations in your legs and an almost irresistible desire to move them, which may prevent you from falling asleep.
  • Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol- Coffee, tea, cola and other caffeinated drinks are stimulants. Drinking them in the late afternoon or evening can keep you from falling asleep at night. Nicotine in tobacco products is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it prevents deeper stages of sleep and often causes awakening in the middle of the night.
  • Changes in sleep patterns- With age, your internal clock often advances, so you get tired earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. But older people generally still need the same amount of sleep as younger people do.
  • Changes in health- Chronic pain from conditions such as arthritis or back problems, can interfere with sleep. Issues that increase the need to urinate during the night, such as prostate or bladder problems, can disrupt sleep. Sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome become more common with age.

 If you are experiencing insomnia symptoms you should speak to your doctor or call Comprehensive Sleep Care Center at 703-214-0318 to see one of our sleep medicine specialists. We are now offering TeleMedicine visits to new and returning patients. Comprehensive Sleep Care Center offers expert diagnosis, treatment, and care for sleep disorders with the goal of providing a better night’s sleep and a better day ahead.