CLEVELAND — The pandemic has completely changed most aspects of our daily lives, and that includes our sleep schedule. Doctors throughout the country are seeing an increase in COVID-19 induced- insomnia.
Dr. Sam Friedlander with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center specializes in sleep medicine.
“We are going through an unprecedented time, where there is so much stress affecting people. I have been seeing a lot of sleep problems,” he said.
The problem is, for so many of us, the pandemic has left us unstructured and unscheduled.
“What that does is it affects our circadian rhythm. It delays when we go to bed and then we wake up later and, really, our body wasn’t designed to do that. It’s not a good thing for our health,” he said.
Dr. Friedlander said it’s not only affecting what time we go to bed and wake up, but also how restful our sleep is.
“They’re having insomnia, as well. A lot of people are not sleeping properly and waking up tired,” he said.
He said the key to getting a good night’s rest is a consistent sleep routine.
“Our bodies are designed to wake up with the sun and go to bed as the sun goes down, so that’s what we want to do. We want to simulate it, we want to live that,” said Dr. Friedlander.
He said the time of day we go to bed and wake up, really shouldn’t vary a wide amount.
Another insomnia-inducer: smartphones, tablets and TV screens.
“The devices have blue light and that’s bad for our circadian rhythm. Turn off the devices a couple of hours before going to bed.”
But one of the best ways to make sure we’re staying healthy during the pandemic, including sleeping enough, is eating well and exercising.
Dr. Friedlander said it’s best to exercise in the morning or afternoon hours.
“It’s really important to get light in the morning,” he said. “Get a walk or get some exercise, if possible, because the light is the strongest thing that resets our circadian rhythm, so if you get light, you want to get it in the morning and then avoid it at night.”