Can’t sleep because of coronavirus fears?


Fear + anxiety + stress = trouble sleeping.

As we shelter in place due to coronavirus, many people are struggling with more than just the anxiety during the day, they’re also struggling with sleep difficulties at night. Trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, tossing and turning, and strange dreams have become commonplace as anxiety levels rise.

It’s important to understand that what you’re experiencing is a normal reaction to stressful events. Your first step towards taking control is to make self-care a priority. Self-care includes: eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, meditating, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Taking regular breaks from the news and social media will also help.

Why is sleep so important?

If sleep disturbances have become more common, you may wonder why getting enough sleep is important during this pandemic. A Mayo Clinic FAQ about sleep explains that “people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.”  In addition to being vital to immune system function, sleep is also important for mental health. Mix in lack of sleep with altered work schedules, job fears, financial fears, loss of control, and virus anxiety, and it’s becomes even harder to function during the day. So what can you do?

7 tips to help you sleep better.

Getting a good night’s sleep begins by examining your current sleep habits and creating a new sleep routine. Here’s what to do:

  • Be consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time, including on the weekends.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep. Time your bedtime so that you’re able to get enough sleep. Most adults need 6-9 hours.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Make the hour before bed “me time.” Relax by yourself with a hot bath or shower, play soothing music, meditate or read a book.
  • Make your bedroom a place to sleep, not work. It’s easy for work to creep into the bedroom especially if there are adults working from home and kids eLearning. Don’t let that happen. Make your bedroom a place only for sleep. And make it a relaxing environment: quiet, dark, and with a cool temperature.
  • Unplug. Turn off all electronics including TVs, tablets, laptops, and smart phones 30 minutes to one hour before you go to bed. Place them out of sight if possible so you’re not tempted to turn them back on and check the news.
  • Don’t eat or drink before bed. Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bed.
  • Exercise during the day. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

Finally, don’t focus too much on not sleeping. You don’t want to focus so much on what’s not happening that paradoxically it makes it even harder to get to sleep.

 


Resources:
CDC, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), “Stress and Coping”
Accessed on April 16, 2020

Mayo Clinic, “Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?”
Accessed on April 16, 2020

American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “Healthy Sleep Habits.”
Accessed on April 16, 2020

UChicago Medicine, “Advice for sleeping well during the COVID-19 outbreak.” 
Accessed on April 16, 2020

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