Stress during this COVID-19 pandemic has caused almost a quarter of employees and many others to toss and turn all night long. Not only is this expensive for the global economy in terms of productivity, but it’s also detrimental to our health and wellbeing. Essentially, tens of millions of employees are not sleeping enough due to high-stress levels. They don’t feel productive during the day, because they are too tired.
Surveys report that nearly a quarter of us (22%) are having trouble sleeping because they’re worried about the consequences of Covid-19. Whilst we know that loss of sleep is not good for your health, it’s not helping the economy either. Experts explain that the Covid-19 pandemic will cost the American economy anywhere from $2 trillion to as much as $5 trillion. How do they know this? Among other things, people are not buying cars, booking flights, or even ordering from restaurants. This is due to both coronavirus and financial restrictions.
Stress and lack of sleep are the primary causes of productivity loss. Research not only backs this up but attributes the very real economic loss to sleep issues. So what can we do? Regardless of whether or not you’ve had sleeping problems before COVID-19 or it’s only happened recently. Stress hits even the best of us. Luckily, there are concrete steps that you can take to improve your sleep during this global pandemic.
Stress Is Causing Sleep Deprivation
We think everybody should go easy on themselves during this time. Why? Simply put, because we are walking onto unfamiliar territory and a pandemic is not something we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes.
This doesn’t mean we must lose hope. We just need to give ourselves the opportunity to adjust to stay-at-home routines. Doing this will allow you to try to remain healthy during COVID-19. Now more than ever, we must focus on sleeping well because the health benefits are worth the effort. Experts state that sleep is critical to the physical health and effective functioning of the immune system. It’s also a key promoter of emotional wellness and mental health, helping to prevent stress, depression, and anxiety. And if we have any hope of being more productive, we need to get better sleep.
Other research has discovered that women are having a harder time sleeping compared to men (26% vs. 17%). Moreover, the most affected age group is Generation-X. These are Americans between 39 and 54 years of age who are experiencing high levels of stress. In addition, some millennials – 18% admitted they are sleeping less due to stress over contracting Covid-19.
Who Is Not Sleeping At Night?
You might think that it’s those Americans who have lost their jobs lying awake at night. However, it turns out that salaried employees still on the payroll are most likely to stress and stare at the ceiling at 3 a.m. Almost 20% of salary earners said they’re sleeping less because of Covid-19 stress, versus 13% of hourly workers, and just 9% of those who’ve lost their jobs.
There are many people who may have suffered from insomnia prior to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, the pandemic has created a host of new challenges even for people who previously had no sleeping problems. We’re also all affected by the virus, differently infected or not. But as we’ve seen across the world, the consequences have spread far and wide, and pose significant barriers to sleep. There are many reasons why, but studies seem to have narrowed it down to fewer opportunities to exercise, more time spent staring at the blue-spectrum light from screens, and very high levels of stress. The issue with more screen time is that it inhibits the body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Stress is by far the main contributor.
We’re all feeling uncertain about the pandemic and when it’ll end. Worrying constantly about its impact on our health, finances, and well-being. Even the calmest humans feel unsettled. With elevated stress and worry comes mind racing and anxiety symptoms, which can, in turn, keep people awake during their dedicated sleep hours.
Our Minds Are Racing With Stress
The issue is that we cannot switch our minds off, the stress never stops. With so many thoughts racing through our heads, it’s no shocker that we’re not sleeping and losing productivity. Researchers explain that 92% of respondents are worried about the national economy; 86% are fretting about a loved one getting sick; 81% are concerned that their children’s educations are suffering; 71% are concerned about their personal finances, and 62% are worried about their own mental state. That’s a lot of stress.
The other aspect is that now that more of us are working from home, we’re not sure when it’s time to unwind and shut off. Many are working longer hours than they normally would and don’t make it home. So what does this mean? We’re in a state of constant stress where we go to bed later and wake up later, which is a massive disruption since many are not used to working from home. It’s tough to stay productive when working remotely or to set boundaries.
Due to the impact of insufficient sleep on health and well-being, there are going to be some detrimental effects on the economy. Researchers found that American businesses lose a collective $411 billion a year because their sleep-deprived employees not only don’t perform their jobs as well but call in sick more frequently. American industry loses somewhere around 1.2 million working days as a result of employees who haven’t had enough rest. So you can only imagine how economic gains will plummet now.
Here’s How To Sleep Better
At the end of the day, the best thing each of us can do for ourselves is to reduce our stress levels. If we want to help improve the economic and health consequences of poor sleep then we must focus on correcting sleep troubles now. This will do your body a whole lot of good. Each of us needs to try to do everything we can to improve our sleep and reduce stress as best as possible.
Reduce Media Consumption
There is nothing wrong with staying informed. That’s what the news does. But being hooked on the news can rapidly increase your stress levels. You must set the boundary between what information will help you and what will harm you. If you stress about the news and get too caught up in it, 24 hours a day, it’s only going to increase anxiety and make it harder for you to do day-to-day things.
Experts recommend reading or watching the news only once per day. You can ideally do this in the morning or early afternoon for 30 minutes or less. That’s it. Continually looking at it is almost retraumatizing some people and increasing your stress levels.
Free Your Brain Of Negativity
The best way to reduce stress and lower anxiety levels is to remove some of the reminders about what’s going on,
It’s also good to stop comparing yourself to what others are doing just focus on what you need to be doing. Try temporarily disabling news alerts on your phone, avoiding social media, or unfollowing the feeds of people who are making you more anxious.
This is so you’re not hearing other people panic, which can then make you tense, causing you to have trouble going to sleep.
Reduce Your Caffeine And Alcohol Consumption
What you’re consuming and when it could be having major stress affects your body, impairing your sleep. You want to maintain a healthy diet throughout.
You might be getting too many of these substances or using them at times that disrupt your sleep. Try to avoid caffeine as much as possible past noon. We know this might be tough for you, especially if you’re a coffee lover. It might be the only substance left that gives you a boost to keep you awake, but all it does is send you back into that sleepless cycle. This also includes tobacco.
This is even more important if you’re experiencing stress and poor sleeping patterns. Particularly if you’re feeling tired during the day. Caffeine is a stimulant, but you can try other ways to stay awake, like slowly drinking a glass of water (dehydration often makes us sleepy), getting up and moving around, or some herbal tea such as ginger or peppermint that can give you a decaffeinated boost.
Switch Off The Screens
Too much screen time is a quick way to increase your stress levels. You won’t even realize it’s happening.
Sure, we all need to stay updated on this ever-changing world but the blue light of screens interrupts the production of melatonin. This is the hormone needed to fall asleep. Moreover, the stimulation that comes with the news is counterproductive to the calm you need to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Try reading a book instead. Or do something creative like coloring, knitting, or designing a photo book of your last vacation. A great way to boost melatonin levels is to drink melatonin-rich tart cherry juice an hour or two before bedtime. You can also use over-the-counter melatonin in pill form but check with your healthcare provider as to whether this is recommended for you.
Stress Less Through Relaxation
It helps a lot to start practicing regular relaxation techniques.
Doing this will help you reduce sleep and improve your sleep. Deep breathing, stretching, yoga, mindfulness meditation, calming music, and quiet reading are just a few examples of relaxation techniques that you can build into your routines. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out smartphone apps like Headspace and Calm that have programs designed for people new to meditation.
You can also try to avoid becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus-related news. For example, you can try techniques including:
- Bookmark one or two trusted news sites and visit them only during a limited, pre-set amount of time each day.
- Cutting down the total time you spend scrolling through social media. If you want a hand in this effort, a number of apps can monitor and even block your time on social media sites or apps each day.
- Scheduling phone and video calls with friends and family and agreeing in advance to focus on topics other than the coronavirus.
Keep Your Body Active
In times of stress, it’s easy for us to neglect important aspects like exercise. However, with everything happening in the world, regular daily activity has numerous important benefits, including sleep.
If you can go for a walk while maintaining a safe distance from other people, that’s a great option. If not, there is a wealth of resources online for all types and levels of exercise. Many gyms, yoga, and dance studios are live-streaming free classes during this period of social distancing.
Just try not to do it just before going to sleep. Morning routines are best.
Save Your Bed For Sleep And Sex
It won’t help anyone to go and work on your bed all day, stay in your pj’s, or take regular naps throughout the day. You will be able to stress less, relax, and sleep better when you are tired and ready for bedtime.
If you find yourself doing this regularly it might only fuel your anxiety. You might find yourself thinking about all the stressors on your mind as you lie in bed and try to sleep. That’s why it’s better to just get out of bed. Doctors say that if you continue to worry in your bed, you’re going to teach your body that the bed is a place to worry.
Instead, go sit somewhere else, and that’ll hopefully stop the worry and stress chain.
At a time when working out at home is becoming more popular (and a necessity), do we really need to be so reliant on the gym when home workouts can be just as good? Let’s take a deeper look.
Sleep Deprivation Is Quietly Draining Revenue From Brands in the Covid-19 Era. AdWeek. https://www-adweek-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/sleep-deprivation-draining-revenues-covid-19/amp/
8 smart tips to help you sleep better during the COVID-19 crisis. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/90486181/8-smart-tips-to-help-you-sleep-better-during-the-covid-19-crisis
Sleep Guidelines During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-guidelines-covid-19-isolation
Stress About COVID-19 Keeping You Awake? 6 Tips for Better Sleep. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-to-get-better-sleep-during-the-covid-19-outbreak#1.-Maintain-a-regular-routine