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How to Sleep with COVID-19

February 25, 2022

How to Sleep with COVID-19

The coronavirus disease has created a worldwide pandemic leaving billions of lives affected. From an all-time high loss of jobs, extreme illness, and all the added worry and stress — sleep problems become an inevitable part of the pandemic. With lockdowns around the world, and fear of the unknown, it is no wonder so many people have been affected whether they have contracted the coronavirus disease or not.

Sleep is crucial to the physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being of a person; therefore, when sleep is impacted, the daily life of a person is greatly affected. So how do you sleep with COVID-19? We hope the below information can help!

How is Sleep Impacted by COVID-19?

The human body of the average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep each night on average to maintain proper function of many different areas of the brain and body, from hormone regulation to maintaining a healthy immune system. With COVID-19, many individuals report impacted sleep both in falling asleep and the ability to stay asleep — but just how is sleep impacted by this virus?

Impaired Sleep Quality

Commonly referred to as “coronasomnia”, COVID-19 has been linked to worsening insomnia in those both living with the disease, and simply living in fear of the disease. When you fall asleep, your brain goes through several sleep cycles from slow-wave sleep, deep NREM (non rapid eye movement) sleep, and REM sleep, allowing your mind adequate time to relax and reset to heal from the day, and prepare for the following day. When sleep quality is impaired, the brain and body are unable to keep up with healthy functions, leaving a person to feel extremely fatigued, regardless of how many hours of sleep they got.

Reduced Quantity of Sleep

The number of hours of sleep needed each night is dependent upon the age of the sleeper. Babies and small children need much more sleep than the average adult, who only needs 7-9 hours. The COVID pandemic has significantly impacted the amount of sleep the average adult is getting each night, due to anxiety, fear, and sickness.

Why is Sleep so Impacted When You Have COVID-19?

Several factors can impair a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep in regards to COVID. COVID-19 patients report experiencing difficulties with:

Anxiety

With the many mental health challenges put into play with COVID, anxiety levels are at an all-time high. Many people find themselves fearing the unknown, fearing contracting or spreading the virus to high-risk friends and family members, as well as the instability of the economy and job security. As COVID rampages throughout the world, anxiety, fear, and worry continue to climb, affecting all aspects of a person’s daily life, including falling asleep.

Dyspnea

Difficulty breathing medically, referred to as dyspnea, is a potentially life-threatening condition occurring alongside many viral and/or respiratory affecting diseases, such as COVID. This virus attacks the lungs and respiratory system of a person, leaving them to feel an intense difficulty in breathing that often worsens at night, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Coughing

Not only does the body need enough sleep at night, but it must also go through more than one sleep cycle once you fall asleep, allowing the mind to slow down, reset, and dreams to occur. Coughing makes it increasingly difficult to induce REM sleep - a crucial part of the sleep cycle. Experts recommend sleeping on your back with your head elevated to reduce the risk of coughing interrupting sleep.

Congestion

COVID viciously attacks the immune system, increasing congestion built up within your nasal passages, chest, and airway. You may experience chest pain, discomfort, and difficulty breathing, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Fever and Chills

No one enjoys an elevated temperature. COVID results in an elevated body temperature, leaving you to feel hot and cold at the same time. Fever makes it more difficult to achieve pain relief, making it harder to get a good night’s sleep.

Isolation

Isolation due to the current COVID pandemic has increased significantly as millions are afraid to leave the house, be around family, or are on lockdown, and simply cannot go anywhere. With isolation comes a drastic change in mental health, leaving one to experience an increase in anxiety and depression. Depression is more than just “feeling sad”. It poses the risk of leaving you unable to do simple tasks, such as brushing your teeth, picking up dirty clothes, or even getting out of bed in the morning. Isolation has also been linked to insomnia — difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Medication

Medications used to treat illnesses have been linked to many negative side effects, including an increase in anxiety, depression, or difficulty sleeping. If you find yourself experiencing unwanted or harmful side effects from your current medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, follow up with your primary care provider for a consultation.

Too Much Screen Time

Are you stuck at home, bored?  Are you binge-watching all the new Netflix television shows, or spending hours scrolling through social media? The added screen time exposes you to blue light. Artificial light or blue light emitted from television, computers, or cell phones suppresses the production of melatonin — a much-needed hormone to help you sleep. Without adequate melatonin, the body is unable to slow down and fall asleep.

A Lack of Natural Sunlight

Have you ever heard the saying, “natural light cures depression”? While this may not be 100 percent true, natural sunlight helps to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm, which is crucial in telling the body when it is time to wake or sleep, regulating the production of melatonin.

Worsened Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a life-threatening medical condition resulting in periodic pauses in breathing as you sleep. COVID has been proven to exacerbate sleep apnea, resulting in more frequent apneic episodes. These episodes significantly disrupt normal routines and sleep quality.

Disrupted Sleep Routine

Somewhat like hypnosis, when you set specific routines, such as the time you wake up, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and when you go to bed, your body gets used to this routine, and essentially triggers your brain to the upcoming change. When normal routines are disrupted, much like has happened in regards to COVID, the mind and body become confused, and unable to regulate the needed hormones to induce sleep.

Hospitalization

The rate of people being admitted to the hospital with a diagnosed COVID positive status has skyrocketed and plummeted throughout the global pandemic. As many know, hospital beds and nursing staff constantly coming in and out of your room to monitor vitals, assess your condition and symptoms, and draw blood to conduct lab work, makes it harder than ever to get comfortable and get enough sleep. Many people in the hospital with COVID experience sleep deprivation, making them more tired than usual, and affecting their mental health and well-being.

Why is Sleep so Important When You Have COVID-19?

Sleep is Beneficial to the Immune System

Throughout the natural sleep cycle, many bodily functions can rest from a hard day’s work, and prepare for the next day. One crucial system that relies on sleep to maintain health is the body’s immune system, which is responsible for fighting off infections to keep you healthy. Health care workers report sleeping enhances the body’s ability to produce T cells, allowing them to destroy infected cells. These cells may be infected by a viral infection such as COVID, or other harmful pathogens.

A Good Night’s Sleep Helps to Boost Mood and Improve Mental Health

Many people have experienced a plummet in mental health. Otherwise healthy individuals report an increase in anxiety, depression, and sleeping difficulties, such as insomnia, or other common sleep disorders, leaving them unable to function appropriately the next day.

At night, our body can take a much-needed break allowing for a healthy boost in vital emotion regulating hormones, so that when you wake, you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the world. A person living with COVID may be experiencing insomnia more than usual, leaving them to feel tired, sick, and defeated —  which will inevitably lead to panic, worry, and poor sleeping quality.

Tips to Sleep Better with COVID-19

After countless hours of medical research, months of social distancing, and carefully reviewing data collected - medical experts have compiled a list of sleep tips to help those living with or affected by COVID achieve better sleep, whether they are experiencing symptoms of being sick or not.

Create a Consistent Sleep Schedule

The more you do something consistently, the more the body is prepared for the upcoming change, such as going to sleep and waking up at the same time. A consistent sleep schedule allows you to get enough sleep night after night, helping you to stay asleep, boost your mood, and maintain a healthy immune system.

Journal Throughout the Day

Have you found yourself experiencing an increase in anxiety and worry? Experts recommend journaling during the day, allowing yourself plenty of time to get out your fears before it is time for your body to slow down and fall asleep.

Be Careful of What and When You Eat or Drink

Taking in caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or energy drinks, alcohol, or even eating meals too close to bedtime can leave you to experience poor sleep and an impaired sleep cycle. When the brain is unable to cycle through the needed sleep stages at night, COVID-19 patients experience extreme fatigue.

Perform Relaxing Activities Before Bed

Has social distancing spiraled your mind into a frenzy of fear and worry, leaving your sleep significantly impacted? Relaxing activities, such as yoga and meditation before bedtime have been proven to help you sleep better at night —  especially COVID-19 patients.

Make a Sleep Oasis

Many people cannot wait to climb into bed after a long day of putting in hours at work, flip on their favorite television show, and let their worry melt away - but this is not conducive to quality sleep. Sleep specialists recommend to avoid bright light and blue light from your electronic devices and television. Instead, read a book or listen to a soothing podcast in low light.

Purchase New Bedding

Have you been sleeping on the same uncomfortable mattress for years? With the world at your fingertips, it is easier than ever to make contactless purchases, and have them delivered right to your home while maintaining social distancing protocols. At Eco Terra, we have handcrafted the perfect natural latex hybrid mattress for deep, comfortable sleep night after night.

Takeaway

Poor sleep can be detrimental to the human body. COVID-19 patients experiencing poor sleep, a suppressed immune system, or an increase in worry and anxiety should seek medical attention right away. It is important to remember that COVID is not the common cold, it is a potentially life-threatening disease, resulting in sleep disorders, stomach aches, chest pain, and other unwanted symptoms.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 11 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.



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