On any given day, sleep can be disturbed by usual concerns. However, the concerns we experience during COVID‐19 are anything but usual. And this heightened stress and worry can cause even greater sleep problems. When sleep is disturbed, physical and emotional health suffers. How does a crisis like COVID‐19 impact sleep? Why is good sleep important, especially during the pandemic? And what can we do to get that good sleep?
COVID‐19 can disrupt our sleep in many ways. Some of the largest barriers to good sleep right now are:
Worry about the unknowns and consequences of COVID‐19: Information about COVID‐19 is constantly changing and uncertainty remains. Health and financial concerns and uncertainly around how long it will last are just some of the many things leading to worry.
Consuming too much news coverage: News coverage is near‐constant and too much exposure can greatly increase worry and impair our sleep.
Lack of a normal routine: Daily lives have been upended by business and school closures, stay‐at‐home orders, and working from home. We may no longer have the same routine “anchors” to our day (e.g., going to work, dropping children at school, etc.) that helps sleep.
Increased home and/or work stress: Many homes are now multi‐functional and stressful. They have become offices, schools, and daycares.
Too much screen time: Our time in front of a screen has greatly increased due to virtual meetings, working at a computer, scrolling through social media apps, and virtual gatherings with loved ones.
Impaired body and mind: With increased stress may come increased problems in our body and mind, such as headaches, fatigue, forgetfulness, and increased vulnerability to illness.
Good sleep is critical during the pandemic. A rested mind is sharper, more focused, and can make better decisions. A rested mind is also happier and more capable of managing stress. And, a well‐rested body has a stronger immune system with less inflammation leading to less vulnerability to illness.
The good news is that we can do several things to get good sleep, such as:
Keep your daily anchors: Keep a regular schedule. Get up and go to bed at the same time. Get dressed. Keep regular mealtimes. Add in set “wind down time” before bed (e.g., brushing teeth, putting on pajamas) so your mind knows sleep is around the corner.
Clear your mind: Get rid of the day’s worried thoughts to get your mind ready for sleep. Write down your thoughts in a journal. Use meditation apps. Take deep breaths.
Limit screen time and news exposure: The blue lights from screens can mimic daylight and disrupt sleep, and too much news can lead to greater worry and less sleep. So, set at least an hour before bed as the limit and do not allow computers or smartphones into your bed.
Practice gratitude: Refocus on the day’s positives by thinking about five things for which you are thankful.
Stay active: Go for a walk, use online videos or live‐streamed classes. Just do not do so a few hours before bed.
TrestleTree is here to help people manage stress around the unknown. TrestleTree Health Coaches find personalized ways to help people manage stress and put good coping skills into place. Unique life circumstances and sources of stress drive the content of coaching. TrestleTree Health Coaches also have awareness of resources available and will provide referrals as needed.