COVID-19 has stressed out the entire country, triggering insomnia in many people who have never experienced it before. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 36 percent of Americans are having trouble sleeping because of the pandemic. The phenomenon has been dubbed “coronasomnia,” and even Gwyneth Paltrow suffers from it. Is the pandemic keeping you up at night, too? Here’s what you can do about it.
Understand What’s at Stake
If this is a recurring problem for you, don’t brush it off. Being tired may not seem like a big deal compared to everything else going on, but sleep affects everything you do and feel. Without proper sleep, your judgment suffers and you can make bad decisions. The longer it persists, the more it affects behavior and personality—that may be why you’ve noticed so many irritable people lately. Fatigue weakens your immune system; it affects your weight, your productivity, your coordination, and can even lead to depression and other psychological disorders.
Acknowledge the Causes
Considering all the stressors today, it’s a surprise there aren’t more insomniacs. The pandemic-related factors that contribute to sleeplessness include:
- Disrupted schedules
- No concept of time
- Reduced natural light
- Excess screen time
- Worry and grief
- Work stress
- Cabin fever
Take Control of Your Nights
There’s no surefire way to “cure” insomnia, although everyone will probably have an opinion on what you’re doing wrong. It’s frustrating, but don’t give in. At least try everything that’s been proven to improve sleep for others.
Stick to a Schedule
Set a fixed time for sleeping and waking up, and allow for wind down time, too. Watch out for naps. They can help you get through the day, but too much daytime sleeping can disrupt your nights.
Increase Your Comfort
A temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit is considered optimal for sleep. Different family members may be on different schedules, so more people are using sound machines, sleeping masks, and noise-canceling headphones. If your mattress is more than eight years old, it might not be doing you any favors, either, especially if you’re experiencing sore joints or muscles.
Ignore News and Social Media
It’s good to stay informed—up to a point. At the beginning of the pandemic, we all checked the news and social media constantly for updates. It’s okay to take a break. If anything significant happens, you’ll hear about it.
Reserve Your Bed for Sleep
Stop working in your bed, stop bingeing Netflix in bed, and stop doing almost anything in bed except resting. You can train yourself to associate your bed with sleep, not brain overstimulation.
Check With Your Doctor
If the pandemic is keeping you up at night, keep your doctor in the loop. Detail the ways in which sleeplessness is affecting your life. They’re more familiar with your overall health, and may prescribe you sleeping medications or point out solutions unique to you.