By Natalie Luna
If you have been having a hard time being able to fall asleep, you are not alone. Considering the unsettling events of 2020, having insomnia during the pandemic has become a common issue among people all around the world, as triggers for stress and anxiety have skyrocketed.
Stress is one of the factors as to why people are tossing and turning. According to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 36 percent of Americans reported having difficulty sleeping this summer due to stress about the pandemic. Many are worried about the health and well-being of family and friends as COVID-19 continues to claim lives. For example, essential workers such as doctors and nurses put their lives and the lives of their families at risk of being in close contact with the virus everyday out of necessity.
Along with the stress of the pandemic, the American presidential election has greatly affected the stress levels of individuals.
“I think Covid and the election have affected sleep and could be considered a kind of trauma,” said Nancy Foldvary-Schaefer, director of the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center.
Working and learning from home, a typically comforting space, by no means reduces our stress either. Since people are spending more time indoors than they are used to, many people are staying up later but still having to wake up early for work and school. We are forced into a new overall lifestyle and the transition is exhausting. Even if we aren’t staying up too late, many of us are not getting the sunlight we need.
It is often challenging to adjust to a new schedule or even the lack of a schedule. That is why being home all day, with family members will drastically change routines, is causing sleep problems.
During these new adjustments, it is clear that a healthy and balanced sleeping schedule matters. Getting a good night’s sleep boosts our immune system, which is essential during these times where getting sick is a high risk. Good sleep also helps our minds work better and help us accomplish our daily tasks.
There are many things you can do to try to get your schedule back on track. Usually people should follow a regular bedtime routine that will help ease your mind so it is easier to drift off. This could include reading a book, listening to music, or short mediation.
Before bed, it is also important to limit your exposure to light. This includes limiting cell phone, tablet, video game and television usage. Turning off digital devices 30 minutes prior to bedtime, has been proven to be beneficial for your sleep. This trains your brain to begin feeling relaxed and makes it easier to drift off.
However, if you still struggle, it is always important to know that no one is alone during these difficult times. Everyone is going through the same struggle of wondering when this all will be over. Talking to family and friends over the phone can help reassure you that having trouble sleeping during difficult times is normal and can be overcome with the help of people who care.