The coronavirus pandemic caught everyone unprepared. We had to deal with the fear of an unknown virus which can be lethal for some people. And the whole world just stopped in an attempt to prevent the virus spread.
Suddenly we had to adapt to a new way of living, socially isolated from the ones we love, many have lost their jobs, and others had to learn how to work from home, parents concerned with their children´s education. Our life has changed, and we don´t know for how long.
It´s no wonder that this scenario would be a full plate for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. The truth is having so much on your mind can be unfavorable for a good night of sleep. In turn, sleeping less can also affect your mental health. So how will you get out of this endless loop?
How is coronavirus affecting people´s sleep?
The COVID-19 pandemic is altering our routine. Of course, some people will be more affected than others. It all depends on how well do you adapt to a new situation. In general, the challenges of sleeping during the pandemic can be related to:
• Our difficulty of adapting to a new daily schedule, or having no schedule at all
• It´s more difficult to keep track of the time because you lose your normal “time cues” such as going to work
• When you stay at home and you don´t expose yourself to the daily light, it can be more difficult for your brain to recognize when it´s day or night
• If your work schedule has changed, or if you´re working on a reduced schedule, you tend to oversleep, which can affect your mood
Relationship between sleep and mood disorders
The pandemic has made most people concerned. Some may have family members at the risk group. Others may be concerned about the economic consequences of the disease. Will I keep my job? Will I be able to pay the bills?
A lot of people are feeling anxious about the fact that there is still a lot to know about the disease. Thousands of people are dying every day across the world. When will this finally end?
So many concerns can cause some people to lose sleep. People who tend to revolve around problems and negative thoughts in bed are more likely to develop insomnia. This is why it´s very important to try to disconnect from the problems, negative thoughts, and fears, especially near bedtime. It´s not that easy, but it´s worth trying.
Depression also hit many people. Some are experiencing financial difficulties, others have lost a family member, or even because of the social isolation that prevents them from having contact with the people they love and leading a normal life. Being depressed can worsen your sleep quality because it leads to sleep fragmentation, making you extremely tired, even if you have spent the whole day in bed.
How does the loss of sleep affect your physical and mental health?
On average, an adult should sleep 7-8 h a night. Sleeping less than necessary can significantly affect your physical and mental health.
The lack of sleep can make you feel without energy, depressed, and moody. Besides, you lose the ability to focus and find it more difficult to remember things.
Sleep loss can also negatively affect your physical health, including impairing the functioning of the immune system, which is extremely important for your body to fight foreign organisms, such as viruses.
How can you improve your sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Practicing sleep hygiene is a great way to improve your sleep quality during these difficult times. You can follow the guide below (Absono):
1. Go to bed and wake up at regular times
2. Go to bed only when you´re feeling sleepy
3. Don't use your bed to eat, read or watch TV (Use the bed only for sleeping).
4. Avoid being in bed without sleeping. If necessary, do a quiet activity, and try it again.
5. Establish a calming ritual before going to sleep, such as meditating, taking a hot shower, or dimming the room lights.
6. Avoid alcohol and caffeine at least 6 hours before bed
7. Do not eat near bedtime
8. Avoid taking naps during the day
9. Try being busy during the day
10. Exercise regularly and avoid heavy exercise at the end of the day. Prefer light exercise, such as walking at least 4 hours before bed
Important reminder: sleep disorders are a serious health problem, seek specialized help if you feel that something is wrong with your sleep.