Covid-19 can have a direct and indirect impact on a person’s quality of sleep, resulting in sleep difficulties and insomnia. A recent study has shown that even six months after first symptom onset, Covid-19 can still impact sleep quality in three-quarters of patients. Poor sleep quality not only negatively impacts quality of life, it also increases a person’s risk for viral infections and reduces the efficacy of vaccinations. Managing poor sleep quality to ensure a restful night’s sleep is therefore important.
Covid-19 and lockdown brought with it, among others, social isolation, home-schooling, job insecurity, financial stressors, sickness and the loss of loved ones, all of which led to increased levels of stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sleep difficulties.
Although lockdown measures have been necessary to reduce the spread of the virus, they have had a high psychological cost on populations around the world. An online survey in Italy reported that 57 % of participants experienced poor sleep quality, 42% high stress, 32% high anxiety and 8% symptoms of PTSD during the initial lockdown period. In fact, a review of 55 studies conducted since the start of the pandemic have shown that depression is three times higher, anxiety four times higher and PTSD five times higher in a population affected by Covid-19 than in the general population.
A recent study conducted in China has shown that even six months after the onset of Covid-19 symptoms, three-quarters of patients still had at least one symptom, with fatigue, muscle weakness, sleep difficulties, anxiety and depression being the most common. Reduced sleep quality negatively affects life satisfaction, health, and social and emotional wellbeing. Poor sleep quality is also associated with increased susceptibility to viral infections and reduced efficacy of vaccinations. For these reasons, improving sleep quality to ensure a restful night’s sleep is important, especially during a pandemic.
10 tips to a healthier sleep regime
- Wake up every day at the same time — set an alarm if you have to.
- Get into a routine — shower and get dressed even if you are working from home, eat meals at regular times, break up your day into work time and non-work time.
- Eating a healthy diet can promote good sleep.
- Bask in the light — make sure you spend some time outdoors or in the sunlight as exposure to light is important for your sleep-wake cycle.
- Limit screen time and exposure to Covid-19-related news — especially for the two hours before bedtime.
- Be cautious with your alcohol and caffeine intake as these are stimulants, which may keep you awake.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises.
- Exercise — do some form of regular daily activity.
- Wind-down time before bed is important — read a book, take a bath.
- Remember, your bed is for the S-words only (sleep or sex)!
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