Lindsay Champion of Pure Wow decided to look into why everyone’s sleep has been awful during the pandemic. The new word coronasomnia has even come about as a result of the common lack of rest.
When it comes to the pandemic, lives have been changed in different ways all across the world. However, most people have two things in common—more stress and a change in daily routine.
According to Dr. Rachel Manber, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Stanford Sleep Health and Insomnia Program (SHIP), this is definitely no coincidence. “The two main contributors to potential worsening of sleep are changes in stress levels and changes in sleep behaviors,” she explains.
Some people’s routine has changed more than others, such as front-line healthcare workers. But even if your biggest change is working from home rather than in an office, it’s enough to throw your sleep off balance. “Being stuck at home, especially if it has low levels of natural light, may reduce light-based cues for wakefulness and sleep, known as zeitgebers, which are crucial to our circadian rhythm,” says the National Sleep Foundation website.
There are other situations that factor in as well. For those who are unemployed, the lack of structure can be the cause of sleep troubles. For instance, if you’re sleeping in more than usual, it can be more difficult to fall asleep. Also, a 2006 study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that most people who suffer from depression also experience some type of sleep disturbance. In addition, if you’ve been juggling homeschooling on top of work stress, your mind may be racing too much to fall asleep.
Though unsurprising, if you’ve have COVID-19, you’re likely not sleeping well either. In addition to the stress of spreading the virus, the CDC tells us symptoms might include a fever and chills, muscle aches, headaches, shortness of breath, a sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
So, it seems as if the whole world is experiencing coronasomnia at the moment.
The first step is to not be too hard on yourself. But it’s important to get quality sleep whenever you can, especially during a pandemic. “The most important immune supporting tool that I see most [people] in the Western world eschew is adequate sleep”, Rand McClain, M.D. tells us. “Regular sleep—seven to nine hours nightly—and during roughly the same period, daily exercise and proper nutrition (including hydration) are keys to maintaining health and a well-functioning immune system.”
Try to improve your coronasomnia with these tips.
Falling asleep and waking up at roughly the same time every day can improve your quality of sleep.
Though it’s tempting, it is important not to work or eat in bed. “Unless you are careful to maintain boundaries, you may start to feel like you’re always at work and losing a place to come home to,” says the Harvard Business Review’s Guide to Being More Productive. If you really can’t avoid it, be sure to get dressed and work on top of a made bed.
Even when nature is not on your side, it’s important to get even a few minutes outside in fresh air. “Expose yourself to sunlight first thing in the morning by going for a 15-minute walk, suggests behavioral sleep medicine specialist Lisa Medalie, PsyD, CBSM. “It improves circadian rhythm and morning alertness, thereby reducing insomnia.”
If you can’t stop your mind from running a million miles a second at night, consider a “worry log”. Getting everything down on paper clears up your mind for sleep, suggests the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Even though it’s often hard to follow, you should avoid screen time an hour before bed. Use this hour to relax instead. Try a face mask, take a warm bath, do some yoga, read a nice book, or anything else you enjoy that doesn’t involve screens.
If your doctor approves, some patients with COVID-19 are advised to take melatonin supplements to improve sleep quality. In fact, a recent study conducted by Columbia University found that critically ill patients who took melatonin had an increased likelihood of recovery. Running a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep can also help loosen congestion, the Virginia Mason Medical Center website advises. If you continue to have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor.
Another reason to get your sleep in check—it affects your eating habits. Read more here.