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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.

Doomscrolling it’s Affecting your Sleep Health

Doomscrolling it’s affecting your Sleep Health

 Doomscrolling is a new term referring to the habit of scrolling through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Large numbers of people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this habit with people stranded in their homes increasing  the ever scrolling of Google news, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  The news cycle has gotten more intense and the constant stream of bad news and social media never ends. And so, unfortunately, so does our morbid curiosity or fear of missing out on something important. This self-destructive behavior of Doomscrolling can seriously disrupt your sleep and your overall health.

This constant barrage of bad news can lead to difficulty falling asleep and eventually insomnia. Poor sleep can provoke symptoms of depression in some individuals. Chronic sleep problems can exacerbate depression, leading to a negative cycle between depression and sleep that can be challenging to break.

Doomscrolling can increase levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones. Research has shown that chronic levels of elevated stress hormones are associated with many physical health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

So, what can you do to scroll without so much doom?

It is important to our overall health and wellbeing that we practice self-care and find balance in our lives. One good solution is by logging off. Start by cutting back and creating boundaries for your social media and news scrolling use. Do your best to not scroll the 2 hours before bedtime. It is not only the doom and gloom of the media, but using tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), which suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it even more difficult to fall asleep.

10 Tips to Better Sleep

Swap out the doom and gloom with happier things

Whether it’s connecting with family or sending funny memes to friends, these are the things we should try and spend more time doing. This will help to build up more positive emotions in our lives. And who couldn’t use more of those?

If you feel you may have a sleep problem. Call our office and make an appointment with one of our sleep medicine professionals. We currently have Tele Medicine Virtual visits as well as in-office appointments. Let us help you to Say Hello to Sleep Again.

Comprehensive Sleep Care Center has 9 locations in Virginia and Maryland (Alexandria, Arlington, Bethesda, Chantilly, Dumfries, Germantown, Lansdowne, Manassas, Woodbridge).

Kids, Sleep and COVID-19

Kids, Sleep and COVID-19
Boost your child’s immune system during COVID-19 Pandemic with quality sleep

Research shows that quality sleep is essential when it comes to health for both children and adults. Ensuring that your child gets an adequate amount of quality sleep can help boost their immune system and keep families healthy. This is a high priority during COVID-19, but also vital for health year-round.

Many kids today are struggling because of schooling issues, not being able to see their friends or play sports. They are not expending the same levels of energy as before COVID-19. Everyone’s routine has changed. Children may feel our stress or be anxious from listening to the news. All this can lead to poor sleep resulting in more meltdowns and unwanted behaviors.

A child’s poor sleep can be due to many issues like:

  • Lack of stimulation (physically and mentally)
  • Increased screen time with TV, computers, video games
  • Increased feelings of stress and anxiety

If your child is consistently not getting enough sleep,
they are three times more likely to get sick.

Sleep helps your body (adults and kids) produce immune-boosting cells to protect us.

That’s why, when we get sick, we also get tired. Your body is telling you that you need sleep to heal.
While more sleep won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your child’s immune system, leaving them more susceptible.

The National Sleep Foundation has these recommendations for children:

Under 1 year of age: 12 to 16 hours a day
1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours a day
3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours a day
6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours a day
13 to 18 years: 8 to 10 hours a day

5 TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD’S SLEEP

  1. Make a schedule for sleep and daily activities (for both you and your children) – and do your best to keep consistent.
  2. Stop screen time 60 minutes before bedtime- Intense, close-up light exposure in the evening will delay sleep by not allowing the body to produce melatonin, the good sleep hormone. This is especially important since our kids are using more screen time during the day.
  3. Get sunlight- Try and get outside. Open up your blinds, take a walk, or play outside. The sun controls our internal 24-hour clock that tells our body when to be awake and when to be asleep. If your child’s body doesn’t get enough sunlight, it will mix up their days and nights.
  4. Your child needs physical activity – Kids days have likely gone from active to sedentary. The harder they play, the more their body will need to recover, and the better they’ll sleep.
  5. Create a calming routine – This routine should be at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Things like a warm bath, a good book, (no screen time), do a puzzle or something quiet. The best sleep results come from a routine that’s calm and technology-free.

Of course, there’s more to boosting your immunity and guarding against illness than just getting ample sleep. It’s also important to practice stay-healthy strategies too.

Steps to Keep Children and Others Healthy

  1. Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing).
  3. Put distance between your children and other people outside of your home. Keep children at least 6 feet from other people.Consider postponing visits or trips to see older family members and grandparents. Connect virtually or by writing letters.
  4. Children 2 years and older should wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in public settings where it’s difficult to practice social distancing. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) the other everyday preventive actions listed above.
  5. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (like tables, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, desks, toilets, and sinks).
  6. Launder items including washable plush toys, as needed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
    Make sure your children are up to date on well-child visits and immunizations.

Following guidelines to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus can be particularly difficult for children. Stay patient. Be a good role model and your child will be more likely to follow your lead. And remember, you children will be able to bounce back faster if they get sick if their body is well rested.

If your child continues to have sleep issues, or if you are concerned that your child may have a sleep disorder, the pediatric sleep medicine physicians at Comprehensive Sleep Care Center are here to help. Give us a call today. We are offering in-office as well as virtual office visits.

10 Tips to Better Sleep

10 Tips to Better Sleep

Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. Better Sleep helps to strengthen your immune system. But sleep can be elusive, especially during COVID-19 (Coronasomnia).

Here are 10 tips for getting a better night’s sleep.

Try to keep the following sleep practices on a consistent basis:

  1. Stick to a sleep schedule of 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.
  2. Practice 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, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.
  3. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoonPower 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.
  4. Exercise dailyVigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
  5. Evaluate your roomDesign your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 66 and 69 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
  6. Sleep on a comfortable mattress and  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 and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up during the night.
  7. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and heavy meals in the eveningAlcohol, cigarettes and caffeine can disrupt sleep. Eating big or spicy meals can cause discomfort from indigestion that can make it hard to sleep. If you can, avoid eating large meals for two to three hours before bedtime. Try a light snack 45 minutes before bed if you’re still hungry.
  8. Wind downYour body needs time to shift into sleep mode, so spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity such as reading. For some people, using an electronic device such as a laptop can make it hard to fall asleep, because the particular type of light emanating from the screens of these devices is activating to the brain. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid electronics before bed or in the middle of the night.
  9. 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 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.
  10. If you’re still having trouble sleeping you may benefit from recording your sleep in a Sleep Diary to help you better evaluate common patterns or issues you may see with your sleep or sleeping habits.

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.

 

 

 

 

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