How can you sleep better during the current pandemic? The novel Coronavirus (also referred to as COVID-19) has brought the world into uncharted waters. Countries are on lockdown, the economy has come to a halt, and people are afraid of their nearest and dearest and themselves.
With such substantial changes coming on so quickly. It is understandable that the significance of good sleep is currently flying under the radar. However, as we adjust to stay-at-home orders and try to stay healthy in a time of COVID-19, concentrating on sleeping better offers huge benefits.
Sleep is critical to the adequate functioning of the immune system and overall wellbeing. Additionally, it is a crucial promoter of emotional health and mental health, helping to beat back depression, stress, and anxiety.
Whether you have had sleeping difficulties before COVID-19 or if they come started with the pandemic, the tips provided here may help you improve your sleep.
What Are the Difficulties to Sleep Better During a Pandemic?
Millions of people suffered from sleeplessness before the coronavirus. The pandemic creates a range of new challenges for people who had no issues before. Let’s try to figure out what some of the triggers may be.
The coronavirus outbreak doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. Front-line medical workers and patients with the virus and face the brunt of the direct influences of the disease. However, as we’ve observed across the world, the outcomes have spread far and wide and pose significant barriers to sleep.
Disruption of Daily Life
Social distancing, home quarantines, school closures, working-from-home. All bring intellectual changes to regular routines for people of all ages and walks of life.
- It can be hard to adapt to a new everyday schedule or the absence of a schedule.
- Keeping an eye on the time, as well as the day can be challenging without standard time “anchors” like dropping children at school. Arriving at the office, attending recurring social occasions, or going to the gym.
- Being stuck at home, particularly if it has low levels of natural light, can reduce light-based cues for wakefulness and sleep, called zeitgebers. Which are critical to our circadian rhythm.
- If you’re not working at this time or your weekly hours are decreased as a result of COVID-19. You might be tempted to oversleep daily. Sleeping over seven to eight hours per night can make waking up on time much more difficult, even if you use an alarm. Oversleepers can feel irritable, tired, and unfocused throughout the day.
Anxiety and Worry
Worries abound in the COVID-19 pandemic. Lots of individuals fear to catch the coronavirus because they don’t want to get sick or infect other people involuntarily.
Most people have family or close friends who are older or in high-risk groups due to preexisting ailments, spurring worries about their safety and health.
Economic concerns are currently affecting everyone. It’s normal to worry about savings, income, and making ends meet as economic activity stalls and job losses mount.
There’s still so much unknown about this outbreak, just how much the disease will spread, whether hospitals can handle the crisis, how long lockdowns will survive when the market can recover. This uncertainty frequently brings stress that disrupts sleep as a racing mind keeps the body turning and tossing.
Depression and Isolation
This crisis can cause depression and isolation that could be even worse for some people. Then we have those who have a loved one who is ill or passed away from COVID-19. Depression and grief can be exacerbated by isolation in the home, and both are known to have the potential to cause significant issues that were sleeping.
Greater Work and Family Stress
Many families are under stress due to coronavirus. Isolation from friends canceled trips, and an abundance of time stuck at home can place a strain on anyone. Keeping up with work-from-home requirements or managing a house full of kids who are accustomed to being at school can pose real problems, creating stress and discord that have been shown to be barriers to sleep better.
Excess Screen Time
Whether it’s using Zoom with family members, checking the news on your phone, binge-watching Netflix, or spending extra hours staring at a computer while working-from-home, social distancing can mean a huge increase in screen time.
Excess screen time, mainly later in the day, can have a harmful effect on sleep better. Not only can it activate the brain in ways that make it difficult to wind down, but the blue light from screens can reduce the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that the body makes to help us sleep better.
The chronic stress of living through pandemic may cause a range of symptoms, such as digestive issues, memory lapses, and headaches. Stress-related tiredness is another common complication. The Mayo Clinic describes fatigue as “an almost continuous state of fatigue that emerges over time and reduces your energy, concentration, and motivation.” In case you get an adequate amount of sleep at night, fatigue may leave you feeling unmotivated and exhausted in the daytime.
Why is Sleep Important During a Pandemic?
Sleep is a reality, and the biological process is that it is always essential. However, sleep becomes even more crucial due to its benefits for psychological and physical wellbeing when facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Sleep empowers an effective immune system. Strong nightly rest stimulates our body’s defenses, and researches have found that lack of sleep may make some vaccines less powerful.
- Sleep heightens brain function. Our mind works better when we get perfect sleep, leading to complex thinking, learning, memory, and decision-making. For adults and children adapting to school and work at home, great sleep can help them remain active.
- Sleep improves mood. Sleeplessness can make a person sensitive, pull down their energy level, and worsen or cause feelings of melancholy.
- Sleep boosts mental health. Apart from depression, studies have found that a lack of sleep is connected with mental health conditions like stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Experts agree that getting consistent sleep enhances all aspects of health, which is why it’s worthy of our attention during the coronavirus outbreak.
Recommendations for Sleeping Well During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Regardless of the difficult challenges, there are a small number of steps that may promote sleep throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
If these efforts do not bring any results immediately, do not give up. It may take time to stabilize your sleep, and you might realize that you will need to adapt these suggestions to fit your specific situation.
Set Your Schedule and Routine
Establishing a routine can promote a feeling of normalcy even in unusual times. It is easier for your body and mind to adapt to a consistent sleep schedule, which is why health experts have long recommended preventing variation in your daily sleep routine.
Sleep-specific considerations for your daily schedule should include:
- Wake-Up Time: Set your alarm, turn off the snooze button, and have a fixed time to get every day started.
- Wind-Down Time: This is a valuable time to unwind and prepare for bed. It may involve things like light stretching, reading, and meditating together with preparations for bed, such as brushing your teeth and putting on pajamas. Given the stress of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s wise to give yourself extra wind-down time each night.
- Bedtime: Select a consistent time to turn the lights out and try to fall asleep.
Along with the time spent sleeping and getting ready for bed, it can be valuable to incorporate steady routines to offer time cues through the day, such as:
- Bathing and getting dressed even when you are not leaving the house.
- Eating meals at the same time every day.
- Blocking off particular time periods for work and exercise.
Reserve Your Bed For Sleep
Sleep experts highlight the importance of creating an association in your mind between your sleep and bed. Because of this, they suggest that sex and sleep be the only activities that take place in your bedroom.
This means that working-from-home should not be working-from-bed. Additionally, it means avoiding bringing a laptop into bed to watch a series or movie.
On any given night, if you realize that you’re having difficulty sleeping, do not spend over 20 minutes tossing and turning. Rather, get out of bed and do something relaxing in very low light, and then get back to bed to fall asleep.
Frequently making your bed, fluffing your cushions, and changing your sheets on the mattress can keep your bed feeling fresh, making this an inviting and comfortable setting to doze off.
See the Light
Exposure to light plays an essential part in helping our bodies manage to sleep in a healthy way. You might have to take action so that light-based cues have a beneficial impact on your circadian rhythm as you cope with disturbances to daily life.
- If you can spend some time outdoors in natural light. Natural light has effects on circadian rhythm if the sun is not shining brightly. Lots of people find outdoor time is most valuable in the morning, and it’s an opportunity to get fresh air.
- When possible, open windows and blinds during the day to let light in your house.
- Be mindful of screen time. The light, such as tablets, cell phones, and computers, has been shown to interfere with the natural sleep-promoting processes of the body. You can also use device configurations or special apps that limit or filter blue light.
- You could use device settings or apps that filter or reduce light.
Be Careful with Naps
If you’re home all day, you could be tempted to have more naps. While a short nap early in the midday can be helpful to some people, it’s good to avoid long naps in the day that can interfere with night sleep.
It’s easy to neglect exercise with everything happening in the world, but routine activity has numerous advantages.
If you can go for a walk while keeping a safe distance from other people, that’s an excellent option. If not, there’s a lot of resources online for all types and levels of exercise. Many gyms and dance and yoga studios are free live-streaming classes during this period of social distancing.
Practice Kindness and Foster Link
It may not seem crucial to your sleep, but connection and kindness can lessen stress and its harmful effects on sleep and mood.
Despite all the news that you might encounter, try to obtain some stories. Like how people are currently encouraging one another. It is possible to use the technology to stay in touch with family and friends so that you can keep social connections despite the requirement for social distancing.
Use Relaxation Methods
Finding ways to relax can be a powerful tool in improving your sleep. Stretching, deep breathing, yoga, calming music, mindfulness meditation, and quiet reading are simply a couple of examples of relaxation methods that you can build into your routines. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out apps like Headspace and Calm, which have programs designed for individuals new to meditation.
Another relaxation strategy in this pandemic is to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the coronavirus-related news. By way of instance, you can try techniques such as:
- Bookmarking one or two verified news sites and visiting them only during a restricted, pre-set amount of time every day.
- Cutting down the whole time that you spend scrolling social media. If you would like a hand in this effort, a variety of apps can track and even block your time on networking sites or apps every day.
- Scheduling video or phone calls with family and friends and agreeing beforehand to focus on topics aside from the coronavirus.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Managing a healthy diet can promote good sleep. Be careful with the consumption of caffeine and alcohol as both may interrupt the amount and quality of your sleep.
Contact Your Doctor if Necessary
If you have critical or worsening sleep or other medical issues, it’s recommended to consult with your doctor. Many doctors are increasing availability through email or telemedicine to allow patients to discuss concerns without having to physically visit their office.