Insomnia and difficulty sleeping are not new. Millions of people already suffered from them before the global pandemic of COVID-19 was declared.
However, quarantines, work or home study, the obligation to continue going out to work, and the family, health and economic crises derived from the pandemic, have hatched our ability to sleep well.
According to the Fundación del Sueño, some of the most common manifestations, which have increased by increasing the feeling that this public health situation seems to have no end, are:
- Difficulty adjusting to a new daily schedule, or lack of a schedule.
- Keeping track of the time, and even the day, can be difficult without the typical “anchors” of the weather, such as dropping kids off at school, coming to the office, attending recurring social events, or going to the gym.
- Being trapped at home, especially if you have low levels of natural light, can reduce light-based signals for wakefulness and sleep, known as zeitgebers, that are crucial in regulating our circadian rhythm.
- If you are not working right now or if your weekly hours have decreased due to COVID-19, you may be tempted to continue sleeping each morning.
- Sleeping more than seven or eight hours a night can make waking up on time much more difficult, even if you use an alarm.
- Those who sleep excessively may also feel groggy, irritable, and unfocused throughout the day.
Of course, absolute sleeplessness, insomnia, is the extreme manifestation of this crisis. But disturbed sleep can have an equally devastating effect.
- Habits that steal your sleep
Why it is important to sleep well during the pandemic
Sleep is a critical biological process, essential for a person’s daily well-being and physical and emotional balance.
However, when facing the COVID-19 pandemic, sleep becomes even more essential due to its extensive physical and mental health benefits. The Sleep Foundation summarizes the reasons why you should try to maintain your sleep patterns:
Sleep strengthens an effective immune system. Solid night rest strengthens our body’s defenses, and studies have even found that lack of sleep can make some vaccines less effective.
Sleep increases brain function. Our minds work best when we sleep well, which contributes to complex thinking, learning, memory, and decision making.
Helps maintain attention. For adults and children who adapt to work and school at home, sleeping well can help them stay alert.
Sleep improves mood. Lack of sleep can irritate a person, lower their energy level, and cause or worsen feelings of depression.
Sleep improves mental health. In addition to depression, research has found that sleep deprivation is linked to mental health conditions like anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Experts agree that getting consistent, high-quality sleep improves virtually every aspect of health, so it deserves special attention during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new guide of the Fundación del Sueño offers some tips so that we can sleep, and dream, peacefully.
- Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time.
- And eat your meals at regular times.
- Clear up some of your time at home to exercise, relax, read something other than work, or just go for a walk.
- Try to avoid naps. Being at home all day is fertile ground to “spend a little time”. Be careful because that mini daytime dream can annihilate the night sleep.
- Any meditation technique will help you, even if it is taking a deep breath. You don’t have to be a master yoda to do it. Simply becoming aware that you are stressed and improving your posture, or sighing, is a form of relaxation.
- Stretch, the simple act of strechting revitalizes your circulation, especially if you work sitting or standing for a long time.
- Although it is difficult not to hold on to a glass of wine or a bottle of beer during the pandemic, control your alcohol consumption. Like it or not, it is one of the natural enemies of good sleep.
As for your diet, it is already known that heavy meals such as intense spicy pasta or red meat, fried foods and cakes do not go well with restful sleep.
If you really don’t feel in the mood for a strict diet, just try to eat light, especially at night. In this way you will avoid getting up often to go to the bathroom and any type of heartburn that may cause you discomfort at night.
The released digestive system will help you to lie down better in your bed, and feel that you fall into the arms of Morpheus, in a pleasant dream, faster.