If you’ve been tossing and turning in bed last night, without a wink of sleep, then you’re not alone. Google data reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has upset the sleeping routine of tons of people across the world. Google searches for ‘insomnia’ and ‘can’t sleep’ hit an all-time high in April globally. The data doesn’t reveal the exact reason for this spike. But the timeline coincides with the height of the coronavirus lockdown worldwide. Earlier Harvard researchers warned that the pandemic can take a toll on a person’s sleeping routine, this, in turn, could lead to complications in mental health.
‘Insomnia’ & ‘Can’t Sleep’ Highest Googled In April Amid Pandemic
Google Trends reveals that the searches for ‘insomnia’ and ‘can’t’ are the highest in April, amid COVID-19 quarantine. Maximum Google searches for ‘insomnia’ came from Greece, North Macedonia and Ireland. And most searches for ‘can’t sleep’ were witnessed from Australia, the UK and Ireland. The data doesn’t reveal the exact cause of this, but the timeline matches with that of the coronavirus lockdowns worldwide. Google has also announced a bedtime feature to improve people’s sleep.
Coronavirus Pandemic Can Take A Toll On People’s Sleep
Harvard researchers earlier warned that the pandemic can take a toll on people’s sleeping routines. This can then lead to complications in mental health. The Harvard Gazette states that sleepless nights can make physical and mental problems worse.
It’s further observed by researchers that the coronavirus lockdowns and quarantine periods have people adjusting to new routines. Alarm clocks are reset and there is less outdoor time and exercise. With the advantages of working from home, many go to bed late and wake up late, as they don’t have to spend time on an early morning commute.
People now get carried away till late night gaming or binging shows, which means they don’t get a full eight hours worth of sleep. Another mistake made by many of us is napping more frequently to compensate for missed sleep. Harvard researchers remark that this might deplete the ‘appetite’ for sleep. Researchers reveal that the actions taken by people to protect themselves can not only precipitate problems with sleep but also lead to chronic problems with sleep.
Health Problems Caused By Insomnia
Donn Posner is the speaker of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health online forum. He is also the president of Sleepwell Associates and an adjunct clinical associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. The sleep expert called the current coronavirus situation as the ‘perfect storm of sleep problems’. The featured speaker at the form informed how disrupted daily routines worsen the sleep-robbing stress of the pandemic. Study Reveals Indians Are Second Most Sleep-Deprived And Least Active In The World
The implications of insomnia are severe. Insomnia can lead to cognitive consequences like inability to focus and general irritability. Chronic insomnia is correlated with a wide range of serious health problems. This includes cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes. It can also lead to obesity as insomnia makes it difficult to lose weight. Studies have also pointed out the increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Apart from physical health problems insomnia causes complicated mental health issues. If insomnia lasts for two to four weeks then it increases the risk of depression, states Posner. Lack of sleep is also linked to a poorer response to the treatment. This is because lack of sleep interferes with the ability to recover from depression according to Posner.
How Can You Improve Sleep Amid Lockdown?
To nip insomnia in the bud, sleep expert Donn Posner recommends behavioural changes. For instance, he states that people must avoid napping as a way to compensate with last night’s lost sleep. If not avoid napping at least cut it short. He compared naps to snacks. Move Over Your Regular Vacation Because Sleepcation Is The New Cool
Posner warns that napping for more than 20 minutes in the day ruins the appetite for sleep. He also dispelled the idea that sleeping late on weekends to make up for last nights tossing and turning. The sleep expert informs people ‘not to compensate for a bad night’s sleep, as it only further disrupts one’s regular rhythms’.
Posner notes that people don’t need to maintain their pre-COVID-19 lockdown sleeping patterns. This is because it was set by the necessities of a daily commute. He advises people to keep a rhythm even if its a different time of the day than it used to be.
Once you’re awake try to get some sunlight be it through walks or just sitting by the window. Keeping regular schedules for meals and exercise helps. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and electronic devices for several hours before sleep.
Finally, if you find sleeping impossible then just get out of bed. Do something relaxing like reading or fixing a puzzle. If you worry about sleep it accelerates the problem. So Posner advises you to try distracting yourselves and keep your bed a place of sanctuary.
And if you still can’t fall asleep, then just don’t force it. Donn Posner shares an advises “Good sleepers put no effort into sleep whatsoever.” So if you’re suffering from insomnia or can’t get enough sleep amid the lockdown, try following this advice. Most importantly, you’re not alone.