The current COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives of millions of people across the world. Companies were forced to shut down, resulting in employees losing their jobs. Even though there are others that managed to retain their jobs, whether they were classified as essential workers or not, this pandemic still manages to affect their lives one way or another. However, there are numerous studies that show one area, in particular, was extremely affected, and that is sleep.
As we all know, sleep plays a major role in keeping us healthy physically and mentally. However, ever since the widespread coronavirus happened, a number of people are not getting enough sleep. A ValuePenguin survey shows that more than 1 out of 4 Americans are sleeping less amid the pandemic. In addition, another 64% say that they do not get at least seven hours of sleep per night. The numbers clearly represent the effects of the recent COVID-19 lockdowns.
So, why and how does a pandemic affect the sleeping patterns of our workforce? What is the connection between the two? The answer is a lot more straightforward than one might think. With that said, continue reading below to know how pandemics are affecting employee sleep patterns.
The Relationship Between Stress and Sleep
Sleep is an essential activity for the human body. It enables our minds and bodies to recharge and rest so that we can be ready for the next day. If we do not get enough sleep, our bodies will not receive the full benefits. On top of that, a lack of sleep can lead to more serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, obesity, and more.
The number one contributor to a lack of sleep is stress. If you are not getting enough sleep due to stress, you are not alone. In a recent survey conducted by the APA or the American Psychological Association, only 20 percent of Americans say that their sleep quality is excellent or very good. Also found in the survey, the average sleeping time for Americans is 6.7 hours, which is below the minimum of seven to nine hours.
Any type of stress can impact the way we sleep. That is because stress can trigger insomnia, difficulty to sleep, as well as having trouble going back to sleep. You factor in a global pandemic and you have an abundance of contributors to stress.
Pandemic & Sleep
As mentioned earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused great stress to everyone worldwide. It disrupted a lot of our daily lives and has caused a level of uncertainty for many others. With the thought of a life-threatening disease looming over the heads of people, it raises the cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which can lead to multiple health issues, such as fatigue, headaches, infections, insomnia, and so much more.
According to new information on COVID-19, most that are infected with the virus will develop symptoms in 2-14 days, while 97% developed symptoms after 11 days after exposure. In relation to what we said earlier, this also increases the stress levels, which can prevent you from getting enough rest.
Our work-life also had a radical change. Most of us are now working from our homes in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. However, our healthcare workers are the most stressed out during this pandemic. On top of that, both frontline healthcare workers and non-front line healthcare workers or non-essential workers experienced harsh levels of stress and poor sleep. This leads to burnout among healthcare professionals, as the number of hospital admissions continues to increase. As a matter of fact, the AASM or the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has issued a statement regarding the importance of getting enough sleep.
With all this said, getting enough sleep is vital to keep us healthy during this period, and rest is key to managing stress. However, because of the lockdowns, we cannot go to our usual stress-relievers like going to the gym, attending social gatherings, meeting with friends and family members, etc., since these are prohibited.
Tips for Managing Stress During the Pandemic
Chronic stress can leave detrimental effects on our well-being, and with the current coronavirus pandemic, all of these are intensified. Fortunately, there are a few steps that you can take in order to lower and manage your stress levels.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Aside from sleep, stress can also affect your eating habits. This is especially true for people that stress-eat. If you are that person, it is best to know the factors or triggers that raise your stress, so that you can be prepared to fight the urge to eat. With this said, it is also best to replace unhealthy snacks or food with healthy ones. This helps nourish your body in order to better combat stress.
We know that gyms are still closed due to the lockdowns, but that does not mean that you cannot exercise. Aerobic exercises, such as walking and running or jogging, are still possible. Not only that, there are plenty of bodyweight exercises that you can do at home. Exercise releases a large number of endorphins, which is the feel-good hormone, reducing stress in the process. However, if you are planning to walk or run, always follow social distancing rules to help you remain safe.
Reach Out to Others
Social gatherings are still prohibited in almost every country, but thanks to technology, you can still connect with others through apps that help you communicate. During these times of fear, uncertainty, and isolation, staying connected is vital for our mental stability. Always remember to reach out to friends, family members, colleagues, etc., regularly through text, video calls, and other virtual platforms.
Everything that you are seeing on the news or social media, as well the tasks that your work sends you, can all lead to your stress levels going through the roof. In that case, it is best to take a break every so often. Take a break from watching the news, scrolling through social media, and work. Limiting our exposure to the media is key, especially if you are only hearing bad news. When it comes to working, breaks can help you recharge for a short while so that you can remain focused on tasks later on.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is the best way to manage your cortisol levels. Otherwise, the lack of sleep will actually amplify the effects of stress, which is why getting enough sleep and rest is key. As aforementioned, it helps your brain and body recharge to help you prepare for the next day. To start, you can avoid consuming stimulants, such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. On top of that, sleep resources show that having a routine will also help in making you sleep faster.
The current state of the world has brought out adverse effects on our mental and physical well-being. None more so than our healthcare professionals and other non-essential workers. That is why getting enough sleep is extremely vital to help combat the effects of stress. Aside from that, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, connecting with others, and taking breaks will all aid in preventing issues inside our homes.