If you’ve noticed your sleep has suffered amid the Covid-19 pandemic, you’re not alone. Health experts have reported a surge of Insomnia cases since the pandemic began – dubbing it ‘Coronasomnia.’
Even before Covid, many people struggled with sleep deprivation. However, the effects of the pandemic have appeared to exacerbate sleep problems among people around the world.
A 2021 study looked at participants from 13 countries. Their research found that the pandemic has negatively impacted the sleep of 40 percent of both healthcare workers and the general population. They also found that active Covid-19 patients had higher rates of sleep disturbances.
What’s behind the rise in Insomnia disorders? We’ll examine why the pandemic affects people’s sleep and how you can rest better during this global health crisis.
The Connection Between Stress and Sleep
Stress is considered one of the prime causes of Chronic Insomnia, and the pandemic has been a significant source of stress. Losing jobs, working from home, not seeing friends and family, and the general uncertainty of what the future holds are just some of the stressors that have impacted people across all ages and demographics.
Experts add that social distancing and quarantines have left many feeling isolated, which can intensify feelings of depression. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 75 percent of people with depression have difficulty sleeping. Furthermore, a loss of sleep can worsen depression symptoms, fueling this poor health cycle.
Tips for Better Sleeping During the Pandemic
Keep a Routine
Even though the pandemic may have altered your daily routine, it’s still essential to maintain one – especially a sleep schedule.
Your body operates on a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle called a circadian rhythm. This internal clock signals to your body when it’s time to go to bed and wake up. However, an erratic schedule can disrupt this.
To keep your circadian rhythm in check, you should be going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, including weekends.
Take News Breaks
While it’s okay to stay updated, a constant stream of pandemic-related information may worsen your feelings of anxiety and stress. Experts recommend avoiding the news and social media close to your bedtime, as they can amplify your worries and affect your sleep. Furthermore, the light emitted from tech devices such as televisions and cell phones can disrupt your internal sleep cycle and make you feel less tired.
You may not be driving into the office right now, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get outside in the morning. Natural light is a vital component of our sleep-wake rhythm, which is why it’s essential to make time to get outdoors when you wake up.
For folks with Insomnia, exercise is the perfect excuse to get outside in the morning. According to health experts from the University of California at Davis, physical activity reduces stress, which should help you rest better.
Spending the days at home, it’s easy to consider taking a midday snooze. While a short nap may be helpful for some, avoid taking longer naps, especially in the late afternoon or evening, as these may prevent you from falling asleep later on.
Melatonin is a hormone that the body naturally produces to promote sleep, and melatonin supplements have developed a widespread reputation as a potential sleep aid. While melatonin may help with occasional insomnia, health professionals warn that it shouldn’t be considered a long-term treatment. It’s also important to consult with your doctor before taking any melatonin, as it may be harmful to women who are pregnant or people with certain medical conditions.
Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
A morning cup of coffee might help you get the day started, but caffeine can disrupt your rest, so avoid having it at least 6 hours before your bedtime to allow its effects to wear off.
You may consider having a glass of wine to help you wind down at night, but experts say it’s best to avoid the alcohol. Although alcohol may make you sleepy, it can also prevent you from getting enough deep sleep, increasing your chances of waking up in the middle of the night.
Find Ways to Relax
As mentioned, the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic can lead to sleep problems, so it’s essential to find healthy ways to decompress. These can include exercise, spending time in nature, taking hot baths, drinking herbal tea, painting, journaling, or meditation. Find what works best for you and make a conscious effort to do these stress-relieving activities consistently.