Pandemic and Sleep

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Are you experiencing Coronasomnia? By Nazia Islam

The COVID19 pandemic is a prolonged stressor that has made unprecedented changes worldwide. Among the many changes that came with the global pandemic are people’s sleep patterns. Some experts have termed this phenomenon as Coronasomnia. Coronasomnia is categorized as separate from insomnia because Coronasomnia is the loss of sleep due to the consequences of the global pandemic. A 2021 Study by the National Institute of Health lists some of the consequences of the pandemic and how it may be affecting sleep worldwide.

For many people, it has generated significant stress, anxiety, and worries about health, social isolation, employment, finances as well as the challenge of combining work and family obligations. Such a major stressful life event is also likely to have impaired sleep and circadian rhythms, at a time when healthy sleep is particularly important to cope adaptively with this crisis and uncertainty about the future. (Morin and Carrier, 2020)

Inadequate sleep can have a negative impact on our health and mind. It puts us at risks for medical disorders such as Diabetes, Obesity, Hypertension, Heart Disease, Mood Disorders and decreased Immune Function. A Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School (2017) article states that “… research in animals suggests that those animals who obtain more deep sleep following experimental challenge by microbial infection have a better chance of survival.” Therefore, practicing good sleep hygiene is essential to our wellbeing and managing stress as well as COVID19 symptoms.

If you are struggling with your sleep or Coronasomnia, below are a list of some helpful suggestions to help get our sleep back on track:

1. Avoid caffeine, tobacco, large meals, or alcohol before bedtime.
2. Keep a strict bedtime schedule including weekends and engage in relaxing bedtime activities daily i.e., meditation, warm shower, listening to relaxing music
3. Understand your own circadian rhythm and get enough sunlight throughout the day.
4. Make sure your environment is comfortable at bedtime- turn off bright lights, turn off electronics, have your bedroom at a cool temperature
5. Engage in exercise routinely so your body is tired when you lay down to go sleep, however, avoid exercise before bedtime.
6. If you find yourself in bed overthinking or unable to sleep, get up and do something else until you feel sleepy again.
7. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, i.e., Lavender, Chamomile, Ylang-Ylang, and Bergamot
8. Reserve your bed for sleep and sex, avoid doing work or other recreational activities in your bed.

References:

 Morin, C., Carrier J . (2020, Jun 6th). The acute effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on insomnia and psychological symptoms. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7274952/

Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School ( 2017, December 18th.)  Healthy Sleep. https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk