If you sometimes have trouble sleeping through the night, it may be harder to get adequate sleep under a coronavirus lockdown. Stress is one of the major causes of sleeplessness, and worrying about a second COVID-19 outbreak can increase your stress load. A change in routine is another common trigger for sleep issues, and the restrictions of a lockdown situation may shake up the family schedule. Human beings are social animals, and losing the ability to gather and share meals with friends and family members can also take a toll on emotional health and sleeping patterns. Below is information about feelings and situations that can make it harder to get a good night's sleep, along with some solutions.
Sleeping too little is sometimes a warning sign that stress is contributing to the problem. For example, the stress of training and deployment causes military veterans to experience a much higher incidence of sleep disorders than the general population. Dealing with new living, working, learning and caregiving demands can be a similar source of daily stress for you at home. But getting enough quality sleep should a second coronavirus shelter-in-place order occur can be helped by planning ahead.
Having a set daily routine makes it easier to accomplish tasks because you know what to do and when to do it. When this normal routine shifts, it takes extra energy to create a new way of dealing with the day's tasks. Staying at home for an extended period upsets the comfortable schedule you've gotten used to, and switching to new living and working habits can be a challenge. This is another area to pay attention to ahead of time to help ensure a good night's sleep during a second coronavirus shutdown.
Connecting with other people is a human need that contributes to emotional well-being and happiness. Being around others and sharing day-to-day concerns can help people deal with stress more easily. During an extended stay-at-home order, the range of available activities diminishes, and this can cause you to feel trapped inside the house. It's worse during a pandemic when there's no clear answer as to how long the precautions will need to be followed. However, loss of sleep from coronavirus isolation can be avoided with some of the tips below.
You can do a few things during the day to help prepare yourself for a restful night's sleep. Here are some of the top suggestions from sleep experts:
Just as being around others helps to maintain emotional well-being, spending time outdoors in nature can enhance coping skills. There are documented mental and physical health benefits from human interaction with the natural world. One study showed that people who spent time in a natural setting reported reduced stress levels and increased feelings of well-being a week later.
Inactivity during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Just 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise can improve your sense of well-being and help you sleep better. Walking is great exercise, and going for a stroll outdoors gives you the extra benefit of spending time in nature. In addition to positively affecting the sleep cycle, regular exercise helps ward off common diseases like hypertension and adult-onset diabetes.
Light and noise can disrupt the biological sleeping and waking cycle we all possess, called the circadian rhythm. Being around bright light right up until bedtime can disrupt the cycle, preventing the release of neurotransmitters like melatonin that facilitate sleep. Exposure to noise, such as loud music or TV programs, can also keep you from relaxing and mentally preparing for bed. Controlling these distractions can make a noticeable difference in the quality of your sleep.
Counseling can help you deal with the mental stress and emotional discomfort involved in being shut inside for an extended time. If you already see a therapist, be sure to continue the sessions via the internet. If you don't participate in counseling, this could be a good time to look for support. Therapists can see patients virtually over a computer screen using secure platforms, and phone sessions are also available. A trained therapist can offer techniques to help you relax, such as meditation and music therapy.
Paying attention to the needs above will help you create an environment that addresses the sleep challenges faced during a lockdown. While napping can give you more energy to make it through the day, don't sleep any later than 3 p.m. That way, you'll be tired enough to get a good night's rest. Some people find that rationing their exposure to coronavirus news also helps them sleep better at night.
Here are a few final tips for getting the sleep you need:
© 2020 American Sleep Association.