All that worry and drama can lead to “hyper-arousal states, as well as problems with anxiety and stimulus control,” the kind that make you think of your cozy bed as the place where you lay awake in panic, rather than drifting off to restorative slumber, Singh added. “Moreover, specific lifestyle modifications such as home confinement and self-isolation can also negatively impact sleep health.”
Those rising case figures and anticipating COVID-19′s effect on the economy are not nurse-specific worries, but they also take their toll, whether keeping you from falling asleep in the first place or waking you mid-sleep cycle with a nagging sense of dread. “Everything that’s going on right now can make people more vulnerable to insomnia,” Philip Cheng, a clinical psychologist and research scientist at the Sleep Disorders Center at Henry Ford Health System said.
“It’s a vicious cycle: when you lose sleep, your emotions can feel more intense,” Cheng told the HFHS blog. “Your ability to regulate emotions can also become diminished, so existing stressors become more stressful, and the ability to calm down becomes more impaired. Also, as you become more stress sensitive, your own thoughts become a trigger for stress.”
Could this list get any longer? Well, yes, You and your wide awake self are also coping with the loss of daytime structure that “can upset nighttime sleep schedules,” according to board-certified clinical psychologist Lisa Medalie, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the University of Chicago Medicine. She wrote in the UChicago Medicine blog, “Inconsistent bedtimes and wake times can shift the pressure, or urge, to sleep, making the ability to fall asleep less predictable. Finally, depressed mood, more downtime and low energy can increase long napping, making it harder to fall asleep at night.”
Ack! Maybe it’s some small comfort that you shouldn’t feel singled out. Fighting sleep right now is a natural reaction to both your work and after-hours situation. But like so many issues during the pandemic, this is not one you can afford to let slide. Nurses need their sleep!
“It’s not easy to function at our best without easy access to our usual coping skills (e.g., social support, exercise, etc.) while sheltering in place,” Medalie explained. “Adequate sleep can maximize your potential for having better days under these circumstances. Optimal sleep helps regulate mood, improve brain function, and increase energy and overall productivity during the day.”
Don’t think of this elusive sleep as one more thing to worry about and feel guilty that you’re not accomplishing, though. In fact, shedding that and some other ideas about “must do’s” can be a first step in getting better sleep in the days of COVID-19.
If you’re not getting what Cheng…