In the face of a pandemic that has increased depression and disrupted sleep patterns, getting a full night's sleep feels more elusive than ever. If sleeping feels like a fantasy to you these days, you are not alone; everyone else is experiencing the same thing. We are all in the same boat! The relentless flow of COVID-19 news has made it impossible for all of us to sleep due to heightened anxiety levels, scary hallucinations, and nightmares.
Working from home, with less natural light and no fixed timetable has caused disruptions in our everyday routines. Bank accounts are overdrawn, and children are at home. Other stressors, such as anxiety about the future, excessive screen time, and financial concerns, may cause one to twist and turn in bed at night.
Sleep deprivation makes you feel irritable. It raises the risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, kidney failure, heart disease, and depression, and other chronic health issues.
Immune function is also aided by a good night's sleep. Your risk of infection can increase if you don't get what your body needs. And, in this time of the pandemic, immunity is the shield, so secure the shield by getting enough sleep.
In today's post, we'll talk about sleep challenges and guidelines amid a pandemic. But before that, let's understand the importance.
Why is Sleep Important During a Pandemic? Sleep is an essential biological mechanism, and it is potentially more crucial than ever as we juggle the mental, physical, and emotional demands of the pandemic.
A healthy immune system is supported by sleep. Our bodies' defenses are strengthened by a good night's sleep, and tests have also shown that certain vaccines are less effective when we get less sleep.
Our brain functions are also enhanced by sleep, and our minds perform well when we get enough of it. Complex thought, understanding, memory, and decision-making all benefit from a good night's sleep. A decent night's sleep will help adults and children adjust to work and school at home.
Sleep improves one's attitude. Sleep deprivation may render an individual irritable, sap their energy, and trigger depression.
Even experts believe that having regular, high-quality sleep benefits nearly every part of wellbeing, which is why it deserves our attention during the coronavirus pandemic.
What are the challenges to sleeping during a pandemic?
The most prevalent sleep condition is insomnia, and millions of people had it before the coronavirus, but the pandemic has unfortunately brought a slew of new challenges — even for those who had never had a sleeping problem before.
The word "coronasomnia" is a new term for sleep disorders caused by the pandemic. Increased stress and anxiety have a direct effect on our sleep and mental health, and the only way to overcome this is to exercise proper sleep hygiene.
Let's take a look at some sleep challenges.
We used to have a schedule that we all followed, but nowadays we don't. People of all ages are experiencing dramatic shifts in their daily lives as a result of social distancing, quarantines, and working from home.
Anxiety and Worry
People are afraid of contracting the coronavirus and they don't want to get ill or kill others. Most people have close friends or family members who are elderly or who are in high-risk communities due to pre-existing conditions, which causes them to be concerned about their health and welfare.
Nearly everybody is affected by economic problems. It's natural to be concerned about wages, investments and making ends meet as economic growth slows and employment losses rise.
There's also so much about this pandemic that's unclear — how long lockdowns will last if hospitals will be able to handle the epidemic when life will return to normal — and the fear also leads to anxiety, which disrupts sleep as a result.
Depression and Isolation
This crisis is making people feel alone and sad, which can be exacerbated by those who have a loved one who is ill or has died as a result of COVID-19. Isolation at home can intensify grief and sadness, and both have the ability to cause serious sleeping problems.
Other than that, loneliness may be a symptom of depression. Loss of enthusiasm or enjoyment in sports, thoughts of hopelessness or worthlessness, and a poor appetite or overeating are also possible signs.
The pandemic has taken a significant toll on our mental health, which can disrupt normal sleep patterns.
Greater Family and Work Stress
The coronavirus has put a lot of families under a lot of tension. Canceled holidays, alienation from colleagues, and an inordinate amount of time spent at home will put someone under stress. Keeping up with work-from-home duties or maintaining a house full of school-aged children can be difficult, causing frustration and discord, all of which have been found to be sleep deprivation factors.
Excess Screen Time
Social distancing will lead to a significant uptick in screen time, whether it's reading the news on your tablet, entering a Zoom with family, binge-watching Netflix, or throwing in extra hours looking at a monitor while working from home.
Excessive screen time, especially later in the evening, may interfere with sleep. Not only does blue light from screens activate the brain in ways that make it difficult to unwind, but it can also inhibit the body's own development of melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep.
Our Guidelines for Sleeping Well During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Despite the problems, there are a few measures that can be taken to help people sleep better during the coronavirus pandemic. Yes, there are!
Don't give up if your attempts don't yield results right away. It may take some time to get your sleep under control, and you may need to modify these tips to suit your own scenario.
Set Your Schedule and Routine
Particularly in the midst of adversity, sticking to a schedule will help you maintain a sense of normalcy. Since it's healthier for your mind and body to adjust to a stable sleep routine, health professionals have long advised avoiding significant changes in your normal sleep hours.
Alongside this, having dinner at the same time every day and set out a specific time for work and exercise will do wonders.
Make your bed your sleeping space
Sleep Experts stress the importance of mentally associating the bed with sleep and sex only. This means that working from home doesn't have to mean working from your bed. It also involves not watching a movie or series on a laptop in bed.
If you're having trouble sleeping on any given night, don't waste longer than 20 minutes tossing and turning. Instead, get out of bed and do something soothing in low light before returning to bed and attempting to sleep.
Also, changing your covers, fluffing your pillows, and making your bed on a regular basis will keep your bed smelling new, making it a cozy and inviting place to sleep. If you've been thinking of upgrading your bedroom system with a new mattress, covers, or any other sleep items that need to be replaced, now is the time to do so with ShinySleep.
Spend your time in Sun Light
Light plays a critical role in assisting our bodies in regulating sleep in a healthier manner. You may need to take action to ensure that light-based signals have a beneficial impact on your circadian cycle when you cope with everyday disruptions.
Spend more time outdoors in natural light if possible. Natural light has a good influence on circadian activity even though the sun isn't burning brightly. Many people feel that spending time outside in the morning is the most helpful, as it also provides a chance to get some fresh air.
During the day, open windows and blinds as much as possible to let light into your house.
When it comes to naps, be cautious!
You could be tempted to take more naps if you're at home all day. Try creating a more intentional and regular napping routine rather than treating naps haphazardly.
Napping can enhance learning, memory formation, and emotional control, in addition to making us feel less sleepy. It's important to remember, though, that naps should be restricted to 10-20 minutes, since longer naps will make you feel groggy, and shorter naps aren't long enough to enjoy the benefits.
With everything going on in the world, it's tempting to ignore exercise, but the routine physical practice has many valuable effects, including improved sleep. Excessive activity in the hours leading up to bedtime will disrupt sleep.
So, it's a perfect idea if you can go for a walk while keeping a safe distance from other people. If not, there are a plethora of options for exercise available online. Join them!
Make use of relaxing methods
Finding ways to rest will help you get a better night's sleep. Deep breathing, stretching, yoga, mindfulness meditation, relaxing music, and peaceful reading are only a few coping strategies you can incorporate into your daily schedule. If you're not sure where to go, look at mobile applications like Headspace and Calm, which offer beginner-friendly mediation programs for peaceful sleep.
Keep an eye on what you eat and drink.
Maintaining a balanced diet will help you sleep better. It's quick to reach for unhealthy or sugary snacks at periods of increased tension and confusion, or for happy hour to spill over into earlier parts of the day.
Caffeine and alcohol both have the potential to disrupt both the quantity and quality of your sleep. While everyone's diet is different, you can look for a diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.
If necessary, see the doctor
It is recommended that you contact the doctor if you are experiencing serious or deteriorating sleep or other health issues. Many physicians and their telemedicine availability enable patients to address symptoms without needing to see them in person.