How to Tackle Sleep Loss During Coronavirus Pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic now has nearly six million confirmed cases worldwide regardless of the multiple restrictions and preventive measures taken by the governments of all affected countries.

Even though the imposed nationwide lockdowns have been lifted in a number of countries, the previously suggested preventive measures and guidelines are still to be followed by people in order to avoid a second wave of coronavirus.

This includes wearing a mask in public, washing hands frequently, limiting time spent outdoors, carrying hand sanitizer, cutting down traveling time, and practicing social distancing in all places.

Some workplaces have also continued the ‘work from home’ policy in order to cut down the risk of coronavirus spread. Previous research has already established that the coronavirus is more likely to spread in indoor spaces rather than outdoor ones.

Therefore, the decision to continue to work from home may be much safer in comparison. However, many of the adults who have been working from home in the past three months have faced an unexpected consequence which is sleep loss.

According to Julio Fernandez-Mendoza from the Penn State Health Sleep Research and Treatment Center in Hummelstown, Penn, the number of people with insomnia due to elevated stress levels has risen tremendously in the past three months.

Even though having employment even during the ongoing pandemic may be a relief for many as it provides economic security, the crisis may also significantly add to stress levels in multiple ways.

A recent study also reported the biggest increase in the cases of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression as well as psychological stress due to the fear of contracting the coronavirus and its impact on employment and jobs.

RELATED: Largest Increase in Mental Health Disorders in the US Reported 

However, while the crisis is still serious and there is still a very high risk of coronavirus spread, maintaining sleeping cycles and the quality of sleep is mandatory for better health overall which may provide better protection from the coronavirus.

Previous research has already established that poor sleep quality can further aggravate mental health issues and stress levels as well as contribute to serious health conditions in the future such as heart disease including atherosclerosis and even having a cardiovascular event.

Therefore, it is important to follow steps to get a sufficient amount of good sleep. For instance, Fernandez-Mendoza suggests creating a routine for daily activities. Setting a time table for having food, working, chores, and sleeping can make a significant difference.

In addition, having particular spaces for job-related activities can help with better concentration and work performance. Make sure the selected area gets plenty of natural light and is away from noisy areas like the living room.

Since all adults are working from home due to coronavirus pandemic, exposure to computer screens has increased even more which can be harmful and also a reason for sleep loss. Try to take a break after every two hours of sitting in front of a screen.

Secondly, take time out for doing other activities such as exercising, talking, reading, or yoga that can help in staying physically or mentally active. Do not go to bed straight after finishing work as the stress can disrupt the sleep.

Another important thing to keep in mind, according to Fernandez-Mendoza, is that not being able to fall asleep within twenty minutes of staying in bed does not mean staying in bed for an even longer period of time will help in sleeping.

Instead, get up and do any other activity and head back when feeling sleepy and tired. Staying in bed for longer periods of time can actually have the opposite effect and pave the way for chronic insomnia.

 

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