Sleeping Well

Sleep is critical to physical health and effective functioning of the immune system. It’s also a key promoter of emotional wellness and mental health, helping to beat back stress, depression, and anxiety.

Whether you’ve had sleeping problems before COVID-19 or if they’ve only come on recently, there are concrete steps that you can take to improve your sleep during this global pandemic.

Why are we talking about sleep?

Many people recovering from COVID notice that their sleep has changed when compared to their sleep before they became unwell.

Some people find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, and others find they wake up earlier than usual and can’t get back to sleep. It might be that you are waking up feeling unrefreshed, like you haven’t slept at all.

Why might sleep be affected by COVID?

There are many reasons why your sleep may have changed as a result of COVID.

The experience of being in a hospital setting can disrupt the natural sleep cycle because:

  • A lack of natural daylight can interfere with the production of a chemical in our brain called melatonin. It is this chemical that makes us feel sleepy.
  • Hospitals are noisy, busy places. There are always people around and it can be noisy with alarms beeping on equipment, especially in intensive care units. This means patients can be easily disturbed (even more so if they are light sleepers to begin with).
  • You are sleeping in a hospital bed which may not be as comfortable as your own bed.
  • The medications that have been used to treat you can impact on your sleep too.
  • • Symptoms of COVID include breathlessness, a dry cough and fever; each of which can make it difficult to sleep. Another common symptom is fatigue which can lead to daytime sleeping which disrupts the day/night cycle.

Even if you have not been in hospital, being ill at home can get in the way of a good night’s sleep

It is natural to feel frightened about being unwell with COVID. This fear puts the body into a state of high alert (also called fight-flight). This prepares the body and mind for action, not rest and can make it almost impossible to sleep.

What does a sleep cycle look like?

Sleep is made up of several stages varying from light to deep sleep with periods of rapid eye movement sleep (REM). During REM sleep, the eyes of the sleeper move quickly and jerkily under the eye-lids. This is the stage of sleep in which dreaming occurs. It is common to wake up during lighter stages of sleep and this is not something to worry about.

SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS

Do’s:

  • Set Your Schedule and Routine
  • Spend time in the natural light
  • Regular exercise
  • Mindful breathing

Dont's:

  • Avoid taking naps if you can.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry or thirsty.
  • Over use of screen time