Updated on 04/29/2020, 2:30 PM EST

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all aspects of our lives. We are worried about our health and the health of our loved ones. Our children are attending virtual schools. We are obeying stay-at-home orders, practicing social distancing, wearing face coverings and postponing common springtime activities, like weddings and graduations.

Our routines have been upended, and for many people, that includes their sleep routines.

According to the Sleep Foundation, the pandemic has generated sleep issues for many people, even if they previously didn’t have problems sleeping.

Sleep Challenges during a Pandemic
Many aspects of the pandemic can lead to sleep problems, including:

Disruptions of daily life

  • Adjusting to new daily schedules or lack of a schedule
  • Keeping track of time without typical anchors, such as dropping the kids off for school, arriving at work, going to the gym, etc.
  • Being stuck at home

Anxiety and worry

  • Worries about contracting the disease or passing it onto others
  • Worries about family or friends in high-risk groups
  • Economic concerns
  • Fear of the unknown

Greater family and work stress

  • Canceled vacations
  • Isolation from friends
  • Managing work-from-home obligations
  • Keeping up with children’s virtual school requirements

The Every-Day Importance of Sleep

Sleep is always important, even more so during the pandemic, as it plays a vital role in a person’s physical and mental health.

  • Sleep empowers the immune system
  • Sleep heightens brain function
  • Sleep enhances mood
  • Sleep improves mental health

Guidelines for Good Sleep
The Sleep Foundation offers these guidelines for promoting better sleep during the coronavirus pandemic. Remember, it can take time to stabilize your sleep, so don’t give up if you don’t see immediate results.

Set your schedule and routine

  • Wake-up time: Set your alarm, bypass the snooze button and have a fixed time to get started every day, including weekends.
  • Wind-down time: Relaxing and getting ready for bed can include light reading, stretching, or meditating. The added stress associated with the coronavirus may require that you give yourself extra time to wind down.
  • Bedtime: Establish a consistent time to turn off the lights and go to sleep.

Reserve your bed for sleep

  • Create an association in your mind that your bed is for sleep.
  • Working-from-home doesn’t mean working-from-bed.
  • Avoid bringing your laptop to bed to watch movies or TV.
  • If you spend more than 20 minutes trying to go to sleep, get up and do something relaxing in low light, then head back to bed to try to fall asleep.

See the light

  • Spend some time each day outside in natural light, even if the sun isn’t shining. Natural light can have positive effects on your circadian rhythm.
  • Be mindful of screen time. Blue light from computers, tablets and cell phones can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-promoting processes.
  • Avoid using electronic devices one hour before bed.

Stay active

  • Regular exercise benefits sleep.
  • Go outside for a walk, maintaining social distancing.
  • Try an online workout, such as those offered by BurnAlong, which is free for all AmeriLife employees and their immediate families.

Avoid being overwhelmed by coronavirus-related news

  • Bookmark one or two trusted news sites and visit them at pre-set times throughout the day.
  • Cut back on the time spent on social media.
  • Agree in advance that phone or video calls with friends and family will focus on topics other than the coronavirus.

Watch what you eat and drink

  • Keep a healthy diet.
  • Be cautious about the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume.

Contact your doctor if necessary

  • Make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any severe or worsening sleep issues or health problems.
  • Many doctors now have telemedicine capabilities that allow a doctor’s visit without needing to physically go to your doctor’s office.

Click here for more information from the Sleep Foundation about how to address any coronavirus-related sleep problems.

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