‘Coronasomnia’: Experts shed light on new pandemic problem, share keys for better sleep

'Coronasomnia': Experts shed light on new pandemic problem, share keys for better sleep

MANILA, Philippines — More people have been struggling with having proper sleeping habits as the pandemic continues to put weight on everyone’s shoulders with the arrival of the Delta Variant.

Even before the pandemic started, many people have been suffering from different sleep disorders, including insomnia and other psychological distress. This year, a new sleep problem was found and specialists have called it “Coronasomnia.”

The Sleep Foundation described it as “sleep problems related to the pandemic,” including the increasing cases of stress and anxiety. Experts say that people who suffer from this take longer time to sleep than the average time of 30 minutes.

To combat these challenges, good sleep hygiene should be done.

In one of Joyce Pring’s podcast episodes titled “The Art of Sleeping Better,” she interviewed a sleep expert, Mollie Mcglocklin, and shared tips on how to enhance sleeping patterns and how it is connected in improving one’s mental health.

Mcglocklin is a sleep expert who has founded the company “Sleep is a skill,” in which they help their clients to have a better sleep by integrating technology, accountability and behavioral change.

According to research, the required sleeping hours vary depending on the age range. Adults and young adults (18 to 64 years old) are required at least seven to nine hours of sleep to be more functional and active, meanwhile children and teens (0 to 17 years old) need at least more than eight hours of sleep.

Mcglocklin shared two important factors that affect and can improve one’s circadian rhythm or the cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that regulates the schedule of one’s sleep and wakefulness.

Connecting with light

Light is an important factor in enhancing one’s sleeping habits. It also helps in controlling the body’s circadian rhythm, and it also affects the production of melatonin, a hormone that affects the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Mcglocklin suggested starting the day by thinking about getting enough light, preferably sunlight, as soon as one wakes up.

For instance, standing in front of the doorway to get sunlight in the eyes for at least a few minutes will be helpful in setting the master clock or also called the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

This master clock is directly connected to the eyes and is related to the functioning of the organs and having hormonal balance (secretion of cortisol or stress hormone and melatonin), which affects the mental wellness of the human body.

But, if it would be dangerous to get enough sunlight outdoors because of the virus caused by the pandemic, the best alternative will be usingf light boxes that are available to buy online.

During the evening, dimming the lights is most preferable. Mcglocklin suggested using red lights or candle lights during the night since it is important to set the environment connected with the rhythms of nature, especially before sleeping.

She also said that it is necessary to check the amount of lux (measuring unit for the intensity of light) that is present in one’s environment and to make sure that there are no other distractions in the production of melatonin in the body.

Checking the temperature

During the night, regulating the temperature is needed to change sleeping quality. The ideal temperature of the environment when sleeping is approximately 18.3 degrees celsius to alert the body that it is time to go to bed.

Besides the environment’s temperature, Mcglocklin mentioned that the body temperature is significant in having a better sleeping experience. It is important to drop one’s body temperature to 2 degrees on a regular basis since the human body regulates temperature itself.

She recommended to have the body temperature up during the day by exercising, eating, having charged activities and engaging in conversations.

Meanwhile, during the night, it is important to match the activities they are doing with the environment by not engaging in stressful conversation since it causes the body temperature to heat up, and it is also ideal not to eat too late at night.

Other than the two elements mentioned, Mcglocklin also said that having a sleep tracker and sleep diary can be good tools to ensure the improvement of sleep habits, especially to those who are just starting. Also, having proper exercise, practicing breathing exercises and having a healthy diet will be helpful in achieving good sleep.

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