The struggle to get enough sleep – and good enough sleep – is real. And COVID-19 is creating more problems than the sleepless can count sheep.
Society and sleep have a toss-and-turn type of relationship.
The pandemic is affecting all aspects of daily life, and that includes how we get the rest we need.
Dr. Tarif Smadi, pulmonologist and sleep medicine expert at Aurora Health Care, says that sleep disorders are surging as an indirect effect of COVID-19.
Does COVID-19 cause sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders have been around forever. The most common types, such as insomnia, sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome, often go undiagnosed.
But so far, there is no proven link between the virus and sleep disorders.
So why is there a rise in sleep disorders? Dr. Smadi says working, learning and staying at home more is causing a paradox. Being at home puts people in a position to get the sleep they need. However, the flip side is that a lack of a daily schedule, greater stress and anxiety, and over-sleeping are causing sleep problems.
“Sleep disorders are so common, and then the stress of the pandemic made it worse,” said Dr. Smadi. “Insomnia is linked to anxiety and depression and those two things with COVID have surged. We’ve been seeing a huge spike in both.”
How to get better sleep during the pandemic
Dr. Smadi says good sleep hygiene is huge and helps create good sleep patterns. This runs the gamut, from going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, to a good mattress, the right temp in your bedroom and eliminating noise and light from where you sleep.
Additional keys to good sleep hygiene:
- Adults are recommended to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Unplug and turn off phones, TVs and electronics where you sleep.
- Watch what you consume: caffeine, nicotine, alcohol and drugs can impact sleep quality.
“Sleep is still underrated. I always remind patients to get enough sleep and get educated,” said Dr. Smadi.