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Sleep disorders in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to improve sleep quality

Sleep disorders in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to improve sleep quality

I. How has the COVID-19 pandemic been affecting everyone's sleep?

1. Reality

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only Vietnam but all over the world have more and more reports of sleep disorders. According to the survey, there are many people who report that they toss and turn, change their sleep patterns and do not sleep well.

In fact, the global pandemic has been seriously affecting our sleep. A recent study in the US found that 58% of the population is experiencing sleep problems, and the amount of sleeping pills prescribed has increased by 20% compared to last year. Also in this country, Google searches for the keyword "insomnia" increased by 58% in the first 5 months of 2020 as the infection rate skyrocketed, according to Science Daily.

Canadian researchers Charles Morin and Julie Carrier performed the first studies on “Coronasomnia< span style="font-weight: 400;">” (rough translation: pandemic-related insomnia) - in June 2020. This study points to similarities between the effects of pandemics and events other large, influential and traumatic events such as wars, natural disasters, etc. to human sleep. “Stressful life events have a negative effect on sleep and disrupt the circadian clock.” - this study concludes.

Image source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

2. Signs that you are having trouble sleeping

According to Dr. Neil Stanley - sleep expert, your sleep quality is at issue if you have conditions such as: insomnia, feeling tired when you wake up, sleeping continuously for many days to neglect your daily life, being unable to concentrate for long periods of time, and feeling irritable and restless for a long time…

After a long period of stress and trouble sleeping, you will experience exhaustion - lethargy and difficulty maintaining your daily tasks. In fact, lack of sleep affects the body just like drinking alcohol. Studies have shown that not sleeping for 17 hours causes us to lose alertness, similar to after drinking alcohol and blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.05%.

II. Why does the pandemic directly affect sleep quality?

1. Cause 1: Sleep is affected by stress

Starting from the end of April, the 4th wave of Covid-19 is considered the most complicated epidemic in Vietnam. Under the tightening of directive 16, the information about the positive cases and the blockade areas makes us feel anxious and insecure. People seem to be stuck with the stresses of unrest, changes in activities, studying and working from home, challenges at work, health fears, uncertainty. about the future and financial situation,...

Sleep behavior researcher Lisa Medalie explains: “Stress has negative effects extreme sleep, triggering the nervous system to release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This causes the heart rate and blood pressure to rise, putting the body in a fight-or-flight mode – dreamy, restless.”

(Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266573/)

And when people lose sleep due to stress, it becomes harder for them to regulate their thoughts and feelings the next day, further increasing stress. This cycle goes on and on, causing sleep to not improve or even get worse over time.

Image source: https://www.cnbcindonesia.com/

2. Cause 2: Sleep is affected by lifestyle during the pandemic

Not only does stress impact sleep cycles, people also face changes in lifestyle and work schedules. Dr Rhonda Mattox, president of the Arkansas Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association and a psychiatrist in Behavioral health said: “When a pandemic occurs, it entails a complete change in daily schedules and lifestyles, such as inadequate and inadequate day work hours, leading to to lack of sleep at night. When you have to keep up with work until late at night and don't have time to relax and give your mind a break, the body loses the ability to recognize when to sleep or wake up during the day.”< /p>

3. Cause 3: Sleep is affected by the frequency of electronic device use

"Research shows that increased screen time is associated with decreased sleep time," said researcher Lisa Medalie. , “especially since the post-pandemic period, device usage time has increased at an alarming rate.” Both children and adults spend a lot of time using TVs and computers to study, work, catch up on the news or clear their minds from stress.

Blue light from electronic devices causes the brain to stop producing melatonin. Staring at the screens of these devices will prevent you from getting healthy sleep.

4. Cause 4: Sleep is affected by external factors

When indoors for a long time, the body is not exposed to much sunlight and thereby disrupts our biological clock. Moreover, when the world is facing a global problem, a heavy atmosphere pervades the living space every day with the rush of news, making our minds always tense and thus blurring the lines between wake up and sleep.

III. How to improve sleep during this challenging time?

Even when the Covid-19 pandemic cools down, it will definitely take a long time to adjust to sleep again. Therefore, to improve sleep quality and health, we need to find ways to improve sleep quality now.

First of all, in terms of nutrition, here's what you can do today:

  • Learn and add foods to help you sleep well, reduce stress. A simple example is magnesium - a substance found in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, avocados ... - has the ability to reduce the body's stress response and improve sleep quality.
  • Stop drinking, because alcohol can help you relax immediately and ease into sleep in the early stages of sleep sleep, but will make you not sleep deeply in the later stages. You will very easily wake up in the middle of the night with this light sleep and moreover, drinking alcohol before bed can easily lead to night urination.
  • Cut down on caffeine, especially after 2 p.m. because it makes you jittery and has trouble sleeping.

On average, most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep. However, the exact length of sleep can vary from person to person. You should determine your own sleep needs by trying different sleep times and monitoring your body condition, then arrange a reasonable sleep time to maintain a healthy body and mind.

In addition, experts also give some recommendations to ensure quality sleep such as:

  • Turn off all devices 1 hour before bedtime. Limit the amount of time you use electronic devices during the day.
  • Relax before bed with a warm bath to help your body produce the sleep hormone melatonin; relax, relieve anxiety; reading books; meditate...
  • Take an hour before bed to take care of yourself, avoid exchanging work and taking calls During this time
  • Adjust the lighting, keep the bedroom as dark as possible to make it easier to fall asleep
  • Try to have a regular daily life: wake up at the same time, go to bed at the same time, so that your biological clock is stable, not disturbed and affected to sleep.

However, each of us has different needs to make it easier to sleep. Try different methods for yourself and monitor your sleep quality to find the solution that works best for you. You should consult information and advice, but should not rigidly follow instructions that your body and mind are not really comfortable with.

Good sleep is important to our health. Lack of sleep will cause a severe decline in the body's immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses. Sacrificing sleep is like taking on a loan shark with the repayment of your productivity and long-term health. You spend ⅓ of your life sleeping, so cherish this time and pay special attention to the quality of sleep, especially during the current pandemic situation.

Reference:

1. https://www.raconteur.net/healthcare/how-to-improve-sleep-hygiene/

2. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/coronasomnia-how-the-pandemic-may-be-affecting-your-sleep/