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Sleep Care, Neurosciences, COVID-19, Mental Health
Six Savvy Tips to Snoozing More Soundly
Having weird, vivid dreams? Troubled by sleep disruptions? Sleep problems may be associated with COVID-19, but right now there’s no precise scientific answer as to why. “It may be a stress reaction, but we’re in uncharted territory. It’s literally something most of us have never experienced. It disturbs our world view,” said Brian Walsh, DO, a Dover pulmonologist. He offers some tips to promote healthier sleep:
- Step away from the screens. “First, people can stop living on a 24-hour news station.
- Recognize challenges, including social isolation. Some of Dr. Walsh’s patients have little to no contact with other people during the day. Teens can’t hang out with their friends, and older adults have no one to talk to.
- Stick to a daily routine. “I tell people to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time,” he said. Dr. Walsh recognizes that work furloughs or working from home instead of an office provides patients an opportunity to go to bed later, sleep in or indulge in an afternoon nap. These pattern changes contribute to poor sleep hygiene, he explained.
- Go outside and enjoy the sunshine. “People assumed they were supposed to stay in the house, but we need bright light, good light,” Dr. Walsh said. “At a time like this, it’s important to get outside and exercise. The more tired you are, the more you get into REM sleep.”
- Minimize worry. “People worry about getting sick, about making their family sick. Even simple things, such as going to a restaurant or wondering when you will be able to take a trip. It comes down to stress, and dreams process things we’re not used to during the day – for whatever reasons.”
- Designate your bed for sleeping. Screens – whether TV, tablet or telephone – emit a blue light that stimulates the brain. “It’s old-fashioned, but try reading a book,” he said. “Even electronic alerts might not wake us up, but they lead to disturbed sleep.”