With the vaccine rollout gaining momentum and the number of hospitalizations from Covid infections hopefully on the decline it’s finally starting to feel like there is some light at the end of the tunnel. However, it seems that more of us are still struggling to sleep at night. What could be behind this problem? One term that has become increasingly prevalent is “Coronasomnia”.
What is Coronasomnia?
Many of us are familiar with the term insomnia, meaning difficulty falling or staying asleep. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, there have been more reports of people suffering from insomnia than ever before. The resulting specific sleep crisis has been named Coronasomnia. What has led to the development of Coronasomnia?
Chronic Stress Caused by the Pandemic
A year of constantly worrying about the unknown. Worrying about our own health, the health of our loved ones, financial instability, perhaps relationship or family difficulties arising from everyone living in such close confinement for a long period of time. This long term or chronic stress causes the body to remain in constant ‘fight or flight’ mode, which raises the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol or adrenaline. These stress hormones upset the body’s natural sleep hormone balance and so makes it more difficult to sleep.
Lifestyle Changes Forced Upon Us by the Pandemic
Lack of routine, more ‘screen time’ than ever before, working from home causing the feeling of ‘cabin fever, perhaps increased alcohol intake or binge eating due to lack of routine; the pandemic has radically altered the way we live our lives and for many of us our bodies have struggled to adjust to this life-altering change.
The Coronavirus has led to one of the most dramatic and prolonged changes in human behaviour. Coronasomnia is just one of the side effects that is affecting many people across the world.
Top Tips to Help Avoid Coronasomnia
Your sleep system thrives on regularity and routine trains your body to become sleepy at the same time each night. Going to bed and getting up at the same times each day will help to build a solid sleep routine.
2.Limit blue light exposure
Melatonin is a hormone our body makes to promote sleepiness. Its production is suppressed by sunlight and stimulated by darkness. Therefore seeing at least 30 minutes of natural sunlight each day (preferably in the morning) can help maintain normal melatonin levels. However, if we use devices with screens that emit blue light at night (such as phones, tablets, tv) then our bodies do not know it is time to produce melatonin and so in turn we will not feel as sleepy when it comes to bedtime.
3.Avoid excessive napping
If you are finding it difficult to sleep at night and are napping throughout the day to compensate for that sleep loss, this often aggravates your sleep problem (especially if you are over 60). This is because napping messes with your normal sleep hormone balance, as mentioned in the previous point. Avoid napping if you can but if you must, then limit naps to 20 minutes.
Exercise is a well-known stress reducer. Regular exercise can improve the quality of your sleep. Although do be careful, exercising too close to bedtime can cause your body to be too awake – best try to exercise throughout the day, before dinnertime.
5.Restrict your news intake (especially in the evenings)
It’s nearly impossible to escape the constant stream of stressful news and information that comes at us from every angle at the moment!. However, constantly watching or listening to pandemic news is likely to cause more anxiety and so affect your sleep. Try to limit how many times you check the news each day and try not to check it before bed.
6.Avoid excessive alcohol
Many people think alcohol helps them sleep better. Alcohol may make it easier for some people to relax enough to initially fall off to sleep. However, alcohol intake in the evenings actually disrupts deep sleep patterns. Without this high-quality sleep, our bodies simply can not feel well-rested.
Especially if taken after 2 pm, caffeine intake can make it harder to fall asleep as it is a strong stimulant. Everyone knows about your usual drinks that contain caffeine; tea, coffee and energy drinks but did you know that chocolate is also quite high in caffeine? Something to note if you indulge in chocolate or sweets after dinner time!
8.Relax before bedtime
Take time to unwind before bedtime. Did you know your body naturally cools down before you go to sleep? A hot bath (an addition to it’s relaxing properties) causes a rebound drop in body temperature when you get out which can help trigger restful sleep.
9.Don’t lie in bed awake
It’s important that your body and mind do not associate being in bed with full alertness and frustration. If you are unable to sleep after 30 minutes it’s best to leave your bedroom and engage in a relaxing activity e.g. reading a book. Only return to bed when you are sleepy.
Magnesium is a mineral involved in many processes in the body, it is particularly important for heart health and brain function. Magnesium is also good for inducing sleep as it helps to relax muscles in the body and so, magnesium supplements could be worth considering if you are suffering from coronasomnia.
How Can Brennan’s Pharmacy Help?
Our expert pharmacy team pride themselves on providing the best possible care to our local communities. Talk to your pharmacist today or message us here if you are concerned that you could be suffering from coronasomnia and are not getting enough sleep.
There are some over the counter sleep aids being marketed at the moment, such as Nytol. However, a product like Nytol can be addictive and will help to not solve the root of the problem that is causing your insomnia. The team at Brennans Pharmacy believe it is always better to follow a more natural approach when trying to find a solution to your sleep problem. Trusted advice and perhaps a more holistic herbal product such as ‘Kalms Night’ could be all that you need to ensure you get a proper night’s sleep.
For help with sleep problems or any other health issues, talk to your local Brennans pharmacist, we’re here for you and will be able to give you the specific advice that will help you.