In a survey done by SleepHelp.org, 22% of 1,000 respondents said they had trouble sleeping due to the ongoing pandemic. After almost 10 months of quarantine along with COVID-19 restrictions, sleeplessness is a problem that has affected many people and Harvard-Westlake (HW) students alike.
According to sleep expert Bill Fish, “For those of us who are fortunate to be working from home, we’ve lost the structure of our daily lives. We don’t have an external reality, so to speak.”
Many people are sleeping in because they do not have to commute to work or school. This causes a disruption in their sleep cycles which can eventually lead to consistent restlessness. Many people are also staying home all of the time so their days and nights are blurred together throwing off their internal clocks.
Experts have also noted many other reasons for the so-called “coronasomnia.” According to Kimberly Hardin, a UC Davis professor, “COVID-19 is causing a huge amount of anxiety for so many people. People worry about jobs, about their kids being home, about getting sick. There’s a lot more anxiety, fear and depression – and those can cause insomnia.”
There are also issues with the fact that students are on their computers on Zoom throughout the entire day either attending classes or doing homework. Ruby Kemper ’24 has dealt with these issues of being on a screen all day since the beginning of the pandemic. “I do think that my sleep schedule has deeply been affected by the pandemic. When I would attend school in-person, I would wake up earlier to get ready and drive to school which is no longer something I have to do” said Kemper. “I’m also on my computer all day and when I finish my school day, I’m really tired of the screen and I need a break. This causes me to start my homework later and eventually go to bed later.”
It is not just Kemper who has had a loss of sleep due to the pandemic. According to a HW ’24 student who chose to remain anonymous, “My sleep schedule is getting worse and worse over time. I think I’m going to bed later and later because I am home all the time.”
Another issue that arose with the start of the pandemic is that many are not getting as much exercise as they used to. Kemper noted that she is not as active anymore because instead of walking around HW’s campus all day and playing tennis, she is staying at home.
Although sleeping might not be as easy as usual, there are tips and tricks that sleep experts have recommended in order to get a good night’s rest during quarantine. One tip that Fish recommends is to get at least 30 minutes of some form of movement every day.
“The human body is not meant to sit at a desk all day,” he said. “We have to get this energy out of our bodies so we are physically tired by the time we get to bed each night.”
SleepFoundation.org recommends establishing a sleep routine like a specific time for bed and for getting up in the morning. Also, the UC Davis Health Department recommends not using screens in the bedroom because the blue light that the screens emit can cause sleep disruption.
With the pandemic causing stress and problems for many people, a goods night sleep is of the utmost importance. By following these recommendations, people facing “coronasomnia” could sleep better. After all, with more time on people’s hands and the opportunity for people to sleep in more, it is a great time for people to establish better sleep habits even with all of the downsides of the pandemic.