What is ‘COVID-somnia’? Why some can’t sleep during the pandemic

Click to play video: 'What is ‘COVID-somnia’? How the pandemic is interfering with a good night’s sleep'
What is ‘COVID-somnia’? How the pandemic is interfering with a good night’s sleep
The pandemic sleep struggle is real. Clinical psychologist Maneet Bhatia checks in with The Morning Show to share some tips on getting a good night’s sleep – Jan 7, 2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, experts say some people are having a harder time falling asleep — so much so that researchers are calling it “COVID-somnia.”

Clinical psychologist Maneet Bhatia says people’s different stressors have become worse. Additionally, the uncertainties of the future as well as our daily lives continue to weigh heavily and impact our minds and bodies.

According to Bhatia, COVID-somnia can include everything from difficulty sleeping, disruptive sleep, waking up early, or not getting a good restorative sleep due to anxiety and stress.

These stressors have resulted in numerous people being unable to relax in order to have a soothing sleep, which Bhatia says has often affected our ability to efficiently function both mentally and physically.

READ MORE: Coronavirus keeping you up at night? Here’s how to get better sleep

To deal with COVID-somnia, Bhatia says there are three things people can work on: decompressing; practising mindfulness; and setting aside time to worry.

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For decompressing, he says people should treat sleep as any other important part of our daily routine. For example, if you’re making a recipe, you spend time looking for ingredients and prepping your kitchen.

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“(This) means you’re not having those serious financial conversations, or watching a horror movie or … listening to things that are very troubling and negatively stimulating (in the evening),” he said.

“Try to unwind and ease your way into your sleep routine so you’re ready to go to sleep instead of going into it with our brain going at 100 per cent.”

READ MORE: Canadians dealing with ‘COVID fatigue’ as pandemic drags on, says psychologist

When it comes to practising mindfulness, people often resort to thinking about diving into meditation but Bhatia says it can actually be other simple and engaging practices that help relax the mind and body to reduce stress.

This includes listening to calming music, reading a book, taking a bath or even practising breathing techniques, be it for a short or long period of time.

Click to play video: 'Foods that help with sleep'
Foods that help with sleep

“(It’s about) putting aside all the phones and stimulants that activate our brains and just centering and grounding ourselves in activities and practices that make us focus on the present.”

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Bhatia adds these practices don’t have to be complex and it’s about finding certain moments to engage in a relaxing hobby in order to fulfill mindfulness during the day.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Here are 10 tips to help you sleep better amid the coronavirus stress

Instead of laying in bed with numerous worries, Bhatia says there’s a technique used in therapy to help people reduce their worrying habits at night called “worry time.”

According to Bhatia, allotting 20 to 30 minutes in the day can allow oneself to worry about everything they are thinking about and as a result, avoids the habit of having people’s minds racing before they go to bed.

“If the worry comes back, you can say, ‘I already talked about that, dealt with it in my worry time and I have a plan and I’ll deal with it tomorrow,’ right now I have to go to bed,” Bhatia said.

Watch Bhatia’s full interview with The Morning Show in the video above.

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