Despite sitting indoors pretty much all day, every day, you may be feeling more tired than usual at the moment – and, yes, coronavirus is probably to blame.
Stress impacts on “both the amount of sleep we achieve and its quality”, says sleep specialist Dr Michelle Miller, associate professor in Biochemical Medicine at Warwick University. And few things are as stressful as a global pandemic.
Perhaps the Covid-19 situation has left you struggling to switch off at night. Or you doze off – but wake more frequently than usual, and find it hard to get back to sleep. Fighting to get some peaceful shut-eye affects both our physical and mental wellbeing, says Dr Miller. Heightened levels of stress or trauma are also known to increase frequency of night terrors or “anxiety dreams” in adults.
“Sleep is important for memory consolidation [the process where our brains convert short-term memories into long-term ones] and immune function,” she tells HuffPost UK.
Conversely, sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on mental resilience, making coping with the pandemic – and the precautions we are being asked to take – that bit harder during the day. It has also been shown to mirror brain activity in anxiety disorders and can exacerbate pre-existing ones.
“Lack of sufficient sleep affects emotional regulation, inhibition, control and judgement,” Dr Miler says. “It is associated with low mood, irritability and the inability to concentrate on performing tasks.” Which is why it’s important to address sleeping issues – but how can you best do this when you’re already feeling overwhelmed?
Sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor, founder of The Sleep Works, recommends some proactive steps to regain control over your situation. If you’ve been struggling to fall asleep, she advises spending 10-15...