Is The COVID-19 Pandemic Affecting Your Sleep? By: Marrison Worthington, Submitted by Kathy O’Neill RN, Parish Nurse
Aside from the economic, social and emotional impacts COVID-19 is having on everyone, it also is taking a physical toll, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with the virus.
Have you been lying awake in bed counting the minutes go by longer than usual? Or waking up remembering vivid dreams more often? You’re not the only one. Many people have taken to social media to share their inability to sleep since the pandemic began even to the point where the hashtag “can’t sleep” has been trending on Twitter. In addition, people have also reported more strange and vivid dreams than usual.
The question is, what’s causing this?
Dr. Yelena Tumashova, system sleep medical director for Advocate Aurora Health shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting your sleep.
“This pandemic is weighing on all of us and the additional stress can cause insomnia to develop or even reactivate,” says Dr. Tumashova. “Depression and anxiety can also be another factor causing an increase or decrease of sleep.”
And what about those interesting dreams?
“Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is when our brain mostly dreams and our normal sleep cycle can change due to stress in our lives,” says Dr. Tumashova. “As a result, the sleep cycle can be fragmented, and REM can occur later in the second part of the night and more prolonged if we sleep a longer duration. Our dreams reflect our current reality and help us process things, so it’s no surprise you may be experiencing dreams that bring to life fears and anxieties you may be having. You may also be remembering these more than usual because the nature of the dream is more intense.”
To help combat those sleepless nights and dreams Dr. Tumashova recommends the following:
- Adhere to a strict sleep routine, go to bed and get up at the same time to reinforce your normal circadian rhythm.
- Make sure you get 7 or more hours of sleep to help your brain “detox” and rest. This will allow you to be more productive and have higher energy levels for exercises in turn improving your mood and sleep.
- Keep your bedroom dark and cool at 65 degrees.
- Do not watch TV or use smart devices in bedroom.
- Avoid eating late or drinking alcohol close to bedtime.