Many people would agree that the COVID-19 crisis has been a stressful one. It has been particularly unnerving for healthcare industry professionals who are working on the front lines treating patients, but it has also been stressful for many others including parents who are suddenly thrust into homeschooling their children and social workers who are now dealing with massive changes to their entire workflow.
It has also been stressful for millions of people who have lost their jobs or have had their hours greatly reduced and for the people who have been ill or lost loved ones to COVID-19.
This level of stress can lead to anxiety – and, even before the COVID-19 crisis, researchers had determined that there is a link between anxiety and insomnia. It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to conclude that COVID-19 is leading to a sizeable increase in the numbers of people who are suffering from sleeplessness. In fact, 70% of the employees who are now working from home because of the coronavirus crisis have suffered disruptions to their usual sleeping cycles.
Researchers have determined that there is a great deal of overlap between the treatments that work for anxiety and for insomnia. It may be beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety to try all the usual suggestions for beating insomnia and safeguarding sleep.
The following are a few ideas for methods to try:
Schedule regular ‘do not disturb’ hours
To achieve the ideal sleep duration of eight hours, it’s helpful to create a routine that involves sleeping and waking at predictable times every night and morning.
As part of this sleep routine, it’s a good idea to also set a time for shutting off your phone notifications. Since bad news can trigger feelings of anxiety, it’s ideal to avoid reading your newsfeeds right before you plan to retire to bed for the night. There is no sense in dwelling on the latest coronavirus statistics or unemployment rates when you should be trying to relax.
Create a restful environment that makes it easy to get to sleep
In a surprising number of cases, an uncomfortable sleeping environment is one of the leading factors that contributes to insomnia issues. To avoid this, it is advisable for the bedroom to be temperature controlled, particularly when it’s hot outside. This is because excessive heat can decrease sleep quality.
When it’s not possible to heat or cool the environment to a comfortable temperature, use appropriate bedding to get as comfortable as possible. When the room is cold, add warm blankets to the bed; and when it’s hot, strip away blankets and ensure you’re using lightweight sheets that will not cause you to get overheated.
A supportive mattress like the memory foam models from Ecosa can also help to reduce instances of insomnia by making it easier to get comfortable and fall asleep.
Diffuse relaxing fragrances into your environment
Science has confirmed that there are aromatherapy fragrances that might help you relax and reduce anxiety. A couple of good ones to start with are jasmine and lavender.
According to clinical research published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, jasmine’s fragrance is a valid substitute for Valium, sleeping pills, or similar sedatives. Similar research on lavender was published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. Lavender was determined to have a pronounced calming effect, which the researchers suggested would likely be useful for easing anxiety disorders.
So if you’re looking for a quick way to relax and rid yourself of anxiety, consider trying aromatherapy, using a jar of either jasmine or lavender essential oil. You’re likely to have an easier time getting to sleep as a result.
These aren’t the only possible ways to beat anxiety and insomnia; there are many other things you can try in addition to these suggestions. Find more tips for healthy sleeping habits here. If the anxiety and insomnia problems persist, be sure to mention them to your GP, primary care physician, or therapist, so they can get involved and help you resolve the issues.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg.
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