Image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
As the new decade arrived, a novel virus emerged to disrupt our normality: COVID-19. Governments from all over the world shut down businesses, schools, public places, and ordered a general quarantine to reduce the spread of the illness.
As a result, people stayed at home, for weeks in a row without getting out of the house. So, without a routine to follow, many people developed sleep disorders.
Before the COVID-19, research estimated that around 35% of the entire population already suffered from some type of insomnia. Since the beginning of lockdown, that percentage has increased drastically.
Some people may argue that sleep disorders during quarantine aren’t a crucial issue. However, sleep is quintessential for the well-being of the population. So, if we don’t adjust our sleep, we might end up with serious chronic health problems.
In this article, you’ll find out more about why sleep is essential and how to overcome sleep disorders during the quarantine.
Why Is Sleep So Important?
Sleep is vital for humans. Unlike eating and other physiological necessities, sleep is almost automatic: when your body needs rest, it shuts down with or without your consent.
During rest, your body continues to work by repairing damaged tissue, finishing digestion, reducing inflammation, and so on. If you disrupt your sleep schedule, your body might not get the necessary time to repair itself and rest. As a consequence, you might:
- Slow down the healing process of your tissue;
- Lower your immunity and the efficiency of vaccines;
- Worsen your mood;
- Lower your brain functions (because the brain doesn’t get the REM sleep to build new knowledge);
- Cause mental health issues like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression.
In the case of a novel virus that’s highly contagious, and without a cure, sleep is even more critical. If you get enough sleep, your immune system, brain function, and mood will improve and help you overcome all illnesses.
How Does The Pandemic Affect Sleep?
Before we learn how to overcome the quarantine sleep disorders, we must understand the causes. So, here are a few.
Change Of Schedule
The pandemic forced us not to work and to stay inside our homes, just like an extended weekend. So, days started to lose their structure: the night became day and vice versa.
For example, after an episode of your favourite TV show, you went to sleep because then you’d have to wake up and go to work. During quarantine, though, you didn’t have any obligations. So, you binge-watched episodes until sunrise, with the mentality of “I can sleep later if I want to.”
People who sleep later might go to sleep later too, or they may need extra naps. This is how a sleep disorder is born. As a consequence, they may become more irritable, tired, and generally demotivated. Then, when the quarantine is over, they might have difficulties in getting back on their regular schedule, which can affect their mental health.
A deficiency of Vitamin D from the sun and natural light can also cause people to sleep at unusual hours, with significant effects on mood and psychological health.
The pandemic is centred around a serious and dangerous matter, the COVID-19 virus. So, people all around the world, including governments, started to panic about it. Each of us worried for the lives of our family members and the future. Plus, the economy crash put additional stress on top of the global health crisis.
The unprecedented situation caused anxiety, panic attacks, and other mental health issues. Emotional agitation can cause sleep deprivation, which worsens mental health problems in an ongoing vicious cycle.
Furthermore, many of us had to stay away from family and friends for weeks. A lack of social interaction can cause depression and other mental issues damaging your well-being.
On the other hand, sitting at home with kids in the same household for days in a row, with no interruptions, can create stress and tensions between family members, which can cause fatigue, anxiety, and irritability.
Too Much Exposure To Technology
In our consistent routines, technology is an integrated part of our day. This is true for most digital occupations such as blogging, college paper writing, or freelancing. Nonetheless, we find time for a walk and other activities away from screens.
During a lockdown, there aren’t many activities to do without a screen other than sleeping, playing table games, working out, and reading. So, we might spend the majority of our time in front of devices. This might alter our sleep schedule because we’re exposed to light more than usual. As a result, our brains might think that it’s still daytime, so we don’t need to sleep. Specifically, if the screens have blue light, our levels of melatonin can decrease to the point of causing severe insomnia.
How To Overcome Sleep Disorders
Now that we know what causes sleep disorders, we can move on to fixing them. Here are the steps you may want to take to get your sleep back.
Keep A Tight Schedule
Even if you’re staying at home, try to follow a schedule. For example, set up an alarm so that you wake up every day at the same hour. It doesn’t have to be at 5 am, you can set it at 8, or 9 am. Just make sure you get up right away. Next, you can have a workout or a yoga session to get your body moving. Then, freshen up and get dressed in casual clothes.
Consider setting up specific alarms for meals and try to stay away from junk food. Also, try alternating virtual activities with non-virtual activities to make sure that you don’t feel the need to take a nap because your eyes feel tired.
Lastly, set the alarm for wind-down time: prepare for sleep through relaxation and activities that don’t involve screens. For example, at about 9 pm, you may start to dim down the lights and read or listen to a podcast. Then, go to bed at 10 pm. This way, you encourage your body to produce melatonin, which helps you fall asleep quickly.
Keep Your Bed For Sleep Only
Your brain associates objects and activities, therefore you should keep your bed for sleeping only. So, for example, if you are working at an accounting agency, an essay writers company, or a business, try to work at a desk.
Try to avoid naps as much as you can because they can easily alter your sleep schedule. If you feel like you can’t keep your eyes open, try to rest them a couple of minutes while listening to an audiobook so that you don’t fall asleep. Alternatively, you can have a cup of coffee or tea, just don’t exaggerate.
Spend Virtual Time With Loved Ones
If you improve your mood, it’ll be easier to keep up with your schedule. So, try to connect with friends and family through social media and video calls.
Try Relaxing Methods
You can try meditation, yoga, pranayama to relax your whole body before going to sleep. This way, you ease your body and mind into a peaceful state before you fall asleep.
Ask For Professional Help
If you tried fixing your sleep disorders, but you still have issues, try contacting your health professional. You may have some hormonal problems that affect the chemicals that help you sleep. In this case, professional help is advised.