Is the pandemic affecting your sleep?

Is the pandemic affecting your sleep?

Aside from the economic, social and emotional impacts COVID-19 is having on everyone, it also is taking a physical toll, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with the virus.

Have you been laying awake in bed counting the minutes go by longer than usual? Or waking up remembering vivid dreams more often? You’re not the only one. Many people have taken to social media to share their inability to sleep since the pandemic began even to the point where the hashtag “can’t sleep” has been trending on Twitter. In addition, people have also reported more strange and vivid dreams than usual.

The question is, what’s causing this?

Dr. Yelena Tumashova, system sleep medical director for Advocate Aurora Health shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting your sleep.

“This pandemic is weighing on all of us and the additional stress can cause insomnia to develop or even reactivate,” says Dr. Tumashova. “Depression and anxiety can also be another factor causing an increase or decrease of sleep.”

And what about those interesting dreams?

“Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is when our brain mostly dreams and our normal sleep cycle can change due to stress in our lives,” says Dr. Tumashova. “As a result, the sleep cycle can be fragmented, and REM can occur later in the second part of the night and more prolonged if we sleep a longer duration. Our dreams reflect our current reality and help us process things, so it’s no surprise you may be experiencing dreams that bring to life fears and anxieties you may be having. You may also be remembering these more than usual because the nature of the dream is more intense.”

To help combat those sleepless nights and dreams Dr. Tumashova recommends the following:

  • Adhere to a strict sleep routine, go to bed and get up at the same time to reinforce your normal circadian rhythm.
  • Make sure you get 7 or more hours of sleep to help your brain “detox” and rest. This will allow you to be more productive and have higher energy levels for exercises in turn improving your mood and sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool at 65 degrees.
  • Do not watch TV or use smart devices in bedroom.
  • Avoid eating late or drinking alcohol close to bedtime.

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  1. louise ryssmann April 28, 2020 at 1:26 pm · Reply

    What helps me sleep – taking magnesium 400 mg and calcium tablets before bed , and massaging the base of my neck, until the hard areas are softer usually 15 minutes – helps me sleep. Also watching less news shows during the day, and doing something relaxing before bed – music, happy TV show (I know – no TV before bed, but it helps me) or reading before bed also good.

  2. louise ryssmann April 28, 2020 at 2:10 pm · Reply

    Exercise, yoga and meditation also help!

    I don’t see my comments posted!

  3. louise Ryssmann April 28, 2020 at 2:30 pm · Reply

    Some more thoughts

    Establishing a routine and staying in touch with friends also helps

    Praying and doing gratitude messages to yourself helps. Mindfulness – focusing on your comfortable couch, warm dwelling, pleasant cooking smell, etc useful. Gives safe feeling, and getting through day well helps sleep at night.
    We are grieving for losses on many levels – article on that might be good (just a suggestion)
    I live alone. I wish I had a pet or a husband (or a pet husband) I think that would help, too!

  4. Louise, While I don’t pray, I really like what you listed. I live alone too but once I overcame the initial panic/depression of pandemic life: online ordering, grocery deliveries, sanitizing before allowing in condo, etc. stuff began to change as my Introvert personality woke up & kicked in. I miss seeing friends deeply but am happy getting things re-organized, finishing knitting projects, etc. Even went to Bernina & bought a new computerized sewing machine. I’m thrilled with time to read, learn, experiment. You are right..the brioche I’m baking & those Middle Eastern spicy meals do give a safe feeling. Wish I could sleep better though. My mind is racing with good thoughts. lol Lots of friends say having partner always around is beginning to grate on nerves so maybe we need to be grateful we don’t have that. ??? 🙂

  5. I take a couple gummi melatonins at bedtime. I need the TV to fall asleep but I set the timer for 90 minutes so it doesn’t wake me up again.

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About the Author

Marrison Worthington
Marrison Worthington

Marrison Worthington, health enews contributor, is a public affairs manager for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She is a graduate of Illinois State University and has several years of global corporate communications experience under her belt. Marrison loves spending her free time traveling, reading organizational development blogs, trying new cooking recipes, and playing with her golden retriever, Ari.