Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, had brought the world into some uncertain waters.
With so many countries on lockdown, with the economy struggling, and uncertainty about the future, sleeping well is difficult.
People are afraid for their future and their loved ones. How can someone sleep well when they are worried about the next day? With so unprecedented changes happening on a daily level, it’s understandable that sleep is neglected.
As we adjust to stay-at-home orders and try to remain healthy, focusing on sleep can bring numerous benefits.
Sleep is essential when it comes to the effective functioning and physical health of the immune system.
Sleep is also a key promoter of mental health and emotional wellness, helping you to beat stress, anxiety, and even depression.
Challenges to Sleep During a Pandemic
Before the pandemic happened, millions of people suffered from insomnia. In a way, pandemic created a host of new challenges even in people who previously had no sleeping problems. It’s important to note that pandemic doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.
During these difficult times, it’s important to note just how much daily life challenges. Today, the disruption of everyday life is something that should be talked about.
Social distancing, school closures, working from home, and long quarantines disrupted everyday habits and needs. Therefore, it can be challenging to adjust to a new daily schedule or lack of a schedule.
It’s important to track the time, which can be challenging without typical daily obligations, such as dropping children at school, arriving at the office, attending various social events, or even going to the gym.
Being stuck at home can be exhausting, and the lack of natural light will affect your Vitamin D, which is so important now. As you know, lack of natural light may reduce light-based cues for wakefulness and sleep, which are crucial to our circadian rhythm.
On the other hand, if you are not working at the moment, or your weekly hours have been decreased due to COVID-19, you may be tempted to oversleep every morning.
Excessive sleep can also be a problem because sleeping more than seven to eight hours per night can make waking up difficult, even if you use an alarm. Oversleeping can also lead to feeling groggy, irritable, and unfocused during the day.
Pandemic also borough at a huge level of worry and anxiety. Naturally, many people fear catching the virus. Moreover, people are more afraid of infecting other people than their own health, leading to a high level of anxiety and heavy worry.
Pandemic is directly linked to health and safety, and when there is no safety, there is anxiety. Economic concerns aren’t helping and easily affect everyone.
As many people lose their jobs or are forced to adjust and gain new skills in a short period, it’s normal to worry a bit, as long as it’s the only thing you do – worrying all day and making ends meet.
There is still a lot unknown about the pandemic, and that strong uncertainty often brings anxiety that disrupts sleep as a racing mind, keeping the body tossing and turning.
With anxiety and worry comes depression and, eventually, isolation. Again, this is a possible scenario as everyone reacts differently to circumstances but is a general overview.
Staying at home can lead to stronger depression, especially if the loved one has passed away from COVID-19.
Grief and depression can be stronger by isolation at home, and both are known to have the potential to cause strong sleeping problems.
Excess Screen Time
When you have to stay indoors for an extended period of time, it seems logical that you find indoor entertainment, right? Whether it’s chatting with your loved ones, checking the news on your phone, or simply watching your favorite tv show, you will spend more hours in front of the screen.
Social distancing, combined with working-from-home, can mean a massive increase in screen time.
As you can probably guess, excess screen time can have a detrimental impact on sleep.
Blue light from screens can suppress the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that your body needs to help you sleep.
These are just some of the things that could bother you. Since we are also highly individual, what makes you worry and keeps up at night, may not affect your child, baby, partner, parents, and soon.
Take some time to evaluate your sleep and search for potential disruptors.
- Are you having a hard time falling asleep when anxious?
- Do you have frequent and long naps during the day?
- Do you watch TV or scroll on your mobile late at night?
Think hard and if needed, keep a sleep diary that will help you reflect on your habits faster.
When you write something down, you get to think about it and how it made you feel during the day to understand your emotional sleeping needs better.
Be Consistent With Your Sleep Schedule
It is essential to have a routine. No matter how bad the situation is and how stressful you might be, it’s crucial to be consistent with your sleep schedule.
If you are working from home, adjust your new routine to your needs, and stick to it. It may be tempting to take a nap during the day or go to bed later than usual, but try to keep yourself busy and serious about your daily obligations.
If you feel like you need to go to bed earlier, try to walk it off. Fresh air can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
A light exercise can even help you sleep better, just avoid heavy exercise before bedtime. Also, if you are tired during the day, you should take a long nap, as long as it isn’t an everyday thing.
Try to be consistent with your schedule as much as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time
- Maintain your work schedule
- Avoid long midday naps
- Turn of your computer and other devices at least two hours before bed
- Workout regularly
Consistency will keep your body in a regular and healthy rhythm.
Set Boundaries Around Media Consumption
How you begin and end your day is extremely important. If you start your day on the right track and with a positive approach, the chances are that your day will have a smooth flow and no disturbances.
On the other hand, if you start your day nervous after a night of poor sleep, the rest of your day will suffer.
It’s easy to grab your phone as soon as you wake up and check what’s happening around the globe, but it can also create a lot of stress.
This is the main reason why there should be boundaries around media consumption. You should stay informed but not overwhelmed with information.
f you are more of a nightly news person, cut your media consumption from two hours to one hour and so on.
Avoid Sleep Aids
It may sound great to have a pill and sleep. However, over-the-counter sleep aids aren’t effective when you are stressed and there is much more than a single night of poor sleep.
If you need additional sleep support, that ask for melatonin, a natural sleep hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
Talk to your doctor in the right measure, and don’t overdo it. Melatonin is non-habit forming and may give you a healthy boost to drift off to sleep.
Why is Sleep Important During a Pandemic?
Sleep is a critical biological process, and no matter how old you are or how healthy (or not) sleep is relevant. When confronting serious situation such as the Covid-19 pandemic, sleep becomes even more essential, because of its various benefits for physical and mental health.
Here is how regular sleep can help you during pandemic times:
- Sleep strengthens your body defenses
- Lack of sleep can make vaccines less effective
- Sleep heightens brain function
- Your body and your mind works better when you get good sleep
- Sleep enhances mood
- Sleep improves mental health
The Bottom Line
It’s important to know how well you sleep. It’s also important to know how much sleep do you need based on your age, so you track your moods, body needs, and how fresh you are during a day.
So, if sleep issues during the Covid-19 pandemic begin to affect your life, make sure that you talk with your doctor about it. In some cases, an evaluation by a sleep specialist may be needed.