Having trouble sleeping during the pandemic? If you are, you’re not alone. Getting enough quality sleep is a common problem many have. However, the corona virus has so disrupted our daily lives that interrupted or lack of sleep is difficult for many who had no sleep issues before. According to the sleep foundation, some of the reasons sleep has become a challenge during the pandemic are.
Disruption of Daily Life
Our schedule is off and we’re adjusting to a new daily schedule or lack of one. The daily “anchors” during our day, such as heading out for work, dropping off the kids, or going to the gym, have disappeared so that keeping track of time is difficult. Also being in the house, especially if it has low levels of light, may reduce light-based cues for wakefulness, known as zeitgebers, which are crucial to our circadian rhythm.
Anxiety and Worry
Who hasn’t stayed awake all night at some time because of anxiety or worry. The pandemic only adds to our concerns about our health and that of our families and friends, our finances, and what the future holds.
Depression and Isolation
Many are isolated during this time. While the Internet via social media and video conferencing capabilities can provide some social contact, they do not replace getting together in person with others and enjoying activities.
Excess Screen Time
Many are glued to their small screens to keep up with the news. Excess screen time, especially later in the evening, can hurt sleep. Too much screen time stimulates the brain in ways that make it hard to wind down. Also, the blue light from screens can suppress the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that the body makes to help us sleep.
Tips for Going to Sleep and Staying Asleep
If you are having trouble going to sleep and staying asleep during the pandemic or at any time, there are some things you can do:
- Stick to a schedule: Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. If you have to vary the schedule, try to limit it to no more than one-hour difference. By being consistent, you reinforce your sleep-wake cycle.
- Exercise: Try to include exercise as part of your regular routine. Sleep.org says that even as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise on a regular basis can improve sleep quality. By expending energy through exercise, you feel more tired. Exercise also reduces stress and anxiety which contribute to sleep problems and restlessness.
- Improve your diet: Sleep.org also recommends that a balanced diet that emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat proteins that are rich in Vitamin B are best for a good night’s sleep. Avoid large fried or high-fat meals, spicy foods, alcohol, and soda—especially close to bedtime. Also eating right can lead to a reduction in body fat, which can affect sleep quantity and quality.
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