One year has passed since the world shut down in response to the pandemic. During that time, life has been full of unexpected twists and turns. Who has not laid awake in the bed during the pandemic, restless and wondering what is going to happen next or asking how will everything get done? Those periods of uncertainty and grief have been associated with increased reports of stress and anxiety. When we are stressed, especially as we try to sleep, the body’s “fight or flight” hormones can trigger insomnia. The pandemic has led to such a spike in stress-related insomnia that a new phrase has been coined – coronasomnia.
Coronasomnia can affect the ability to cope with social relationships and life changes that come with the pandemic. It can also wear down your immune system, increasing the risk for new health conditions and making it difficult to care for existing conditions. A few tips that may help to combat coronasomnia include:
- Reserve your bed for sleep.
- If you cannot rest, try getting up from the bed to do a brief, quiet activity and return for rest.
- Be careful with napping so that you get a 7-9 hour stretch of sleep, if possible.
- Add more structure to your daytime schedule to intentionally separate work activities/space from home and hobbies.
- Take advantage of natural light.
- Increase physical activity, during the day/evening.
- Create a personal bedtime routine (“me-time”) that tells your body it is time to sleep. (OTs can help with this process if you are experiencing difficulty).
Try these lifestyle changes to see if they help you to embrace sleep. If you find yourself unable to self-manage, consult with a physician or other professional such as occupational therapists, regarding additional options. Here’s to quality sleep!
The importance of sleep is underappreciated. Many people wear lack of sleep as a badge of honor, believing that they can “catch up” when they miss it or that sleep is a waste of productive time. On the contrary—quality sleep helps to heal the body! While the amount of sleep needed varies for different people, an average of 7 to 9 hours provides the energy to meet daily activity demands.
Many symptoms can arise due to poor quality sleep, including fatigue, falls, problems with thinking; irritability, pain, and weight gain. These symptoms can impact work and lifestyle and even worsen health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Yet, most people do not think of sleep as the culprit.
There are many things that can be done to improve the quality of sleep, such as taking a warm shower before bed, making sure the mattress and pillows are comfortable, raising the head of the bed around 4 to 6 inches to make breathing easier, and dimming the lights. Getting physical activity during the day and avoiding caffeine before bed also helps. However, there are times when you check with your physician and you still cannot seem to get to sleep, stay asleep, or feel rested. This is a good opportunity to ask for a sleep study to make sure you do not have an undiagnosed sleep disorder or to seek help from other professionals, like occupational therapists.
Remember to shoot for quality sleep so that you have a positive effect on your heart, mind, body, and spirit!