COVID-19 has introduced a number of new health problems into the lives of many people. Both COVID-19 sufferers and those who have not come down with COVID-19 may have suffered from sleep problems, anxiety and depression over the past year.
Does COVID affect sleep?
The pandemic has had an impact on sleep behavior in two ways. Some people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have suffered from insomnia long after recovery along with a host of other issues. Others have developed insomnia or their insomnia has worsened as a result of anxiety and depression over the pandemic and the additional stresses it has caused.
If you’ve happened to discover this article while searching online, you may be one of those people who has insomnia along with other COVID-related issues that include brain fog, a lack of focus and muscular weakness. Many of these lingering symptoms can cause depression in patients who are eager to get well, and this can make insomnia worse.
Like many things about COVID-19, how it affects the nervous system is not yet fully understood, but it could be affecting people's ability to sleep. Melatonin, the hormone that regulates circadian rhythms, is being studied as a possible supplemental treatment for COVID-19, but it is not clear whether what people need is more melatonin or more sleep itself.
If it is the latter, it may turn out that many people may be trapped in a vicious cycle. They may not be sleeping because they have COVID-19, and sleep may be exactly what they need to fully recover. For people who have not contracted the virus, a lack of sleep may affect their immune system and make them more vulnerable to getting it.
Can COVID cause anxiety?
Anyone who has lived through the past year is likely to say yes. Even people whose lifestyles may have become less stressful as a result of the pandemic might be feeling more anxiety during COVID. Others who already struggled with depression and anxiety are likely to have had those conditions exacerbated.
How does anxiety affect sleep?
Anxiety can be a major cause of insomnia. COVID-related anxiety and depression may not just be about fear of getting sick, but about finances, the health of family members and being separated from family and friends. The large-scale disruption of people's lives as a result of COVID can produce widespread anxiety.
Anxiety after COVID
Anxiety after COVID may also have a number of causes. Many people will continue to have the same pandemic-related stressors about finances and relationships that they did before getting the virus. However, afterwards, they may have additional concerns about lingering symptoms. On top of that, because the virus is new, its long-term effects are not yet known, and this uncertainty can also be anxiety-producing.
People who already had insomnia are likely to have seen it worsen during the pandemic. However, because many people have been working from home or not working at all, a whole new group of insomnia sufferers may have been created. People's routines have been altered, and they may not be getting up or going to bed on any kind of regular schedule.
The importance of sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene during a pandemic may be more important than ever in protecting against getting the virus and in managing anxiety and depression. Even if they do not have a regular routine of school or work to follow, people should endeavor to go to sleep and get up at the same time. They should avoid screens before bedtime and get a soothing routine in place to help them fall asleep, such as a warm bath or drink and quiet reading.
Getting enough sleep is critical to mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and taking these steps to combat insomnia may help improve regular sleeping patterns.