Even before the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled insomnia a “public health epidemic” as more than one-third of Americans reported problems with sleep. These issues range from simply struggling to fall asleep to not getting enough sleep to more serious issues such as sleep apnea.
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened these problems for many, creating a new term in the medical community: coronasomnia. Don’t worry, coronasomnia is not a new variant or a direct side effect of the virus. Instead, it is the increase of insomnia and other sleep problems that have stemmed from the stress, anxiety, and depression associated with the pandemic.
Coronasomnia combines the words corona and insomnia. It describes the increased sleep problems some have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, the pandemic accentuated already existing sleep problems due to the loss of a daily routine, increased media consumption, and outside stresses, such as potentially getting sick or losing a job.
As a result, the number of Americans suffering from sleep-related disorders rose to near 40% over the past year. Even as the pandemic starts to settle down, many people still suffer from these symptoms. For many, the loss of sleep can contribute to weight gain, depression, and an inability to function at a high level at either work or school. A reduction in quality sleep can also lead to mood swings and additional anxiety about falling asleep, further exacerbating the problem.
Tips for Battling Coronasomnia
The best thing anyone can do to help themselves with coronasomnia is to follow good sleep hygiene. This advice is good for everyone, but especially those who struggle to sleep well at night.
Follow these tips to improve your sleep patterns:
1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule with set bed and wake-up times.
Stay as consistent as possible, even on weekends or other days when you do not have a morning commitment.
2. Avoid naps of more than 20 to 30 minutes.
While a short rest can be refreshing, sleeping too long during the day can affect your ability to fall asleep again at night.
3. Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool, eliminating all unnatural light.
Also, try to avoid screens for an hour before bed as the blue light emitted from televisions and computers keeps your brain awake.
4. Get a little bit of sunlight each day.
This can be a simple walk, but even just 30 minutes can help your body wake up and reset circadian rhythms.
5. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
Caffeine can stay in your system for up to 10 hours, so a late afternoon soda can still impact you that evening. Alcohol can be a sedative, but it disrupts your sleep architecture, making it less restful and restorative. The same goes for eating late, which can lead to an upset stomach and restless sleep.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits are Key
Along with practicing good sleep hygiene, those suffering from coronasomnia should also establish a healthy daily routine. Those who work from home may especially find themselves in a monotonous pattern that can turn into a rut.
Set precise times to begin and end work each day, taking time for regular meals and breaks. If possible, spend your breaks outside during daylight hours and take short walks. Try not to work where you sleep; have your bedroom serve as an oasis away from work and stress, and set up another area of your home to focus on your job.
Finding time to exercise is also essential. Even light exercise, such as taking a walk, can have health benefits and improve sleep at night. While finding time to work out can be difficult, make it a part of your daily schedule. Find exercise routines that you enjoy and help you feel refreshed.
Take time to connect with friends and family. The pandemic has decreased our typical interactions with those around us, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Spend time each day talking or texting with a loved one. Increased communication can help reduce stress and anxiety and lead to better sleep.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult. Coronasomnia is an additional condition that has come as a result. Luckily, with healthy living habits, it can be corrected. Most people, especially those who suffer from sleeping disorders, will want to follow these guidelines even when the pandemic ends.