All the worry and stress related to loss of control and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to sleepless nights. As people shelter at home, many are trying to keep up with the latest coronavirus news, spending large amounts of time looking at their computer and device screens and not following a consistent daytime routine. All these factors can make it harder to fall asleep at night and ultimately lead to sleep deprivation.
Healthy sleep habits, also known as sleep hygiene, are important for maintaining your well-being. Getting adequate rest should be part of your first line of defense against COVID-19, and there are lifestyle changes you can make to help ensure you get enough.1 In this article, you’ll learn about the impact and signs of too little sleep, as well as strategies for getting a good night of slumber.
The effects of sleep deprivation on your body
Not only does optimal sleep help improve your thinking abilities, regulate mood and increase energy and overall productivity during the day, it also contributes to a healthier immune system.2
Missing out on the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep can have several negative impacts on your body.2
- A weakened immune system: Inadequate sleep slows your body’s production of cytokines, which are specialized proteins that help fight infection. This increases the risk of getting sick and a longer recovery from illness. Research has found that people who regularly get less sleep are more vulnerable to contracting a viral infection.3
- Increased risk of chronic medical conditions: Sleep deprivation causes the release of insulin which can lead to type 2 diabetes. It also negatively impacts blood pressure and inflammation control, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. A lack of sleep has been linked to respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD. 2
- Irregular hormone production: Insufficient sleep can alter healthy levels of growth hormones and testosterone. It also affects the hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness, leading to increased body weight.2
How to recognize you’re getting inadequate sleep
The ideal amount of rest varies from person to person. In general, the right amount for adults is between seven and nine hours per night.3 Stress and worry can affect the quality of slumber by making it difficult to fall asleep or interrupting sleep through the night. The best way to know if you’re not getting enough quality rest is to pay attention to how you feel during the day. Here’s a list of symptoms to be on the lookout for:2
- Yawning, daytime fatigue and sleepiness
- Moodiness and irritability
- Depressed mood and lack of motivation
- Forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, difficulty learning something new and clumsiness
- Increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings
- Reduced sex drive
Tips for getting enough sleep
What you do during the day and before bedtime can have a big impact on the quality of your rest. Just a few lifestyle adjustments can make all the difference between getting a solid night’s sleep and a restless one. In addition to establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, here are some healthy habits you can try to improve your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.5
- Keep a consistent schedule – wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing and kept at a comfortable, cool temperature
- Remove electronic devices, such as televisions, computers and smart phones from your bedroom
- Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed
- Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime
- Avoid eating a large meal or drinking alcohol before bedtime
- Don’t consume caffeine in the late afternoon or evening
- Reduce fluid intake before going to sleep
If you have trouble falling asleep night after night, there are also options to support your well-being through the Go365 program. Keep a weekly sleep diary for 25 Points per week or a mindfulness log for 10 Points per week. You can also connect a Go365 compatible app like Unwinding Anxiety or Stop, Breathe & Think to learn new coping skills or find peace to help you get to bed. Engage your mind and body for better sleep while getting rewarded today.
1 Michael J Breus PhD, “How You Can Use Sleep to Fight Back Against Coronavirus,” Psychology Today, accessed May 5, 2020. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/202003/how-you-can-use-sleep-fight-back-against-coronavirus
2 “What to know about sleep deprivation,” Medical News Today, accessed April 16, 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/307334
3 Sheldon Cohen, PhD, William J. Doyle, PhD, et al, “Sleep Habits and Susceptibility to the Common Cold,” (2009), accessed April 16, 2020. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414701
4 Eric J. Olson, MD, “How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?” Mayo Clinic, accessed April 16, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/faq-20057898
5 “Tips for Better Sleep,” CDC, accessed April 17, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html
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