How to deal with “COVID-somnia” and sleep well at night

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In a new survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, researchers found more than half of Americans report what experts have dubbed “COVID-somnia,” an increase in sleep disturbances.

Of people reporting these disturbances, 57% say they’re having trouble falling or staying asleep. About 46% are sleeping less; 45% are experiencing worse sleep; and 36% are having disturbing dreams.

The team says COVID-somnia can be brought on by multiple stressors: fears about the pandemic, concern for loved ones, financial worries, and limited socialization.

In the survey, the team found men were more likely to report sleep disturbances and 35- to 44-year-olds had the highest rates of COVID-somnia at 70%.

Those 55 and older were most likely to report trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

Insomnia is often caused by stress or lifestyle factors, and those have, of course, changed greatly during these nearly two years of the pandemic.

Some of those lifestyle changes include not waking at the same time each day or spending more time watching TV or looking at smartphones.

The academy characterized insomnia as different from occasional trouble falling asleep, because it causes both sleep disturbance and daytime problems, such as fatigue and irritability.

The team says the best way to get healthy sleep during these unprecedented times is to be intentional about your sleep habits and routines.

Maintaining a consistent schedule can help. Aim to get seven hours of sleep a night and strive to go to bed and get up at the same times seven days a week.

Reduce your screen time, and spend less time on the news and social media before bed, the academy advises. Turn off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

If your sleep struggles persist, talk to your health care provider.

If you care about sleep, please read studies about sleep apnea linked to autoimmune diseases and why people with sleep apnea more likely to have high blood pressure.

For more information about sleep and your health, please see recent studies about too much, too little sleep linked to higher heart disease risk and results showing that this common sleep supplement may protect against cognitive decline, memory loss.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. One researcher of the study is Jennifer Martin.

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