After Radio 4 presenter Reverend Richard Coles recently tweeted about his poor night’s sleep, his post received 34,000 likes and more than 3,000 responses.
Many people confirmed that they too struggled to get a good night’s sleep.
In fact, new research, published this month by King’s College London, found that nearly two-thirds of people in the UK have had a bad sleep since the closure started.
In a survey of more than 2,000 people ages 16 to 75, half said their sleep was more disturbed than normal and 40 percent slept fewer hours per night on average, while 30 percent slept longer but felt less rested.
Bobby Duffy, a professor of public policy at King’s College London, who conducted the study, says the cause is fear of the virus, stress on lock, and financial and employment insecurity.
New research published this month by King’s College London found that nearly two-thirds of people in the UK have had a bad sleep since the closure started
“If our finding can be extrapolated, nearly two thirds of the British public report a negative impact on their sleep,” he says.
Young people are most affected, the study found, perhaps because they are more likely to experience hypersomnia – sleeping longer but not feeling rested – says Dr. Ivana Rosenzweig, head of the Sleep and Brain Plasticity Center at King’s College London. They are more likely to have hypersomnia because their brains are still developing.
However, sleeping is also a common response to stress.
“Some people respond to stress with oversleeping, others with insomnia,” says Dr. Rosenzweig. “Both groups suffer from daytime sleepiness, which means that sleep does not perform its restorative function.”
In most cases, hypersomnia, including in connection with depression, will be temporary.
In a survey of more than 2,000 people ages 16 to 75, half said their sleep was more disturbed than usual and 40 percent slept fewer hours per night on average, while 30 percent slept longer but felt less rested
Many of our sleep problems are caused by the way our brains are wired to deal with uncertainty, says Colin Espie, a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Oxford who studies sleep patterns during the pandemic.
“Sleep is our primary coping strategy for situations of long-term uncertainty,” he says. “It regulates our emotions and helps us recover. But when there is real uncertainty, such as with the coronavirus, it is difficult for the frontal cortex – which is why – to disable the brain’s threat center.
This means it’s harder to lower arousal levels in our brains, which can lead to sleep problems. It also helps to explain why so many people have vivid dreams. ‘
Staying out of our normal routines will also have contributed to poor sleep, according to Dr. Neil Stanley, an independent sleep expert.
“Working from home, some people’s sleep patterns are everywhere,” he says. “The medical definition of insomnia is a poor night’s sleep for three months, so people who haven’t slept well during the lockdown will feel effects similar to a recognized sleep disorder.”
And getting out of lockdown doesn’t mean sleeping patterns will return to normal, he warns.
“Just as we adjusted our routine and sleep patterns to lock in, we will now have to adjust when the restrictions are lifted. Many people still feel a lot of fear.
“Without enough sleep, you can experience a bad mood, lethargy, less resilience, and more stress.”
Many of our sleep problems are caused by the way our brains are wired to deal with uncertainty, says Colin Espie, a professor of sleep medicine at Oxford University who studies sleep patterns during the pandemic
Sleep has also been linked to memory, judgment and immunity. It helps fight viruses because when we sleep, our body makes T cells that destroy them, Dr. Stanley out.
Exactly how much sleep you need is mainly determined by your genes. Most people need between seven and nine hours a night for optimal health. ‘
To improve your sleep, try going to bed at the same time every night, exercising, eating three meals a day, not drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, and unwinding before bed, says Dr. Stanley.
Read, do yoga or distract your mind – and if you’re stressed about coronavirus, don’t watch the news at night.
Find your natural sleep pattern – what time you are tired and when you wake up without an alarm. You can then try to continue after the lock has ended. ‘
If you can’t sleep, don’t panic, adds Professor Espie, who has compiled new advice on how to get a good night’s sleep during the pandemic for the NHS mental health website (nhs.uk/ oneyou / every- spirit matters).
“Don’t think about it,” he says. “Get up, read a book and trust yourself to go back to sleep. Once you learn to trust sleep, it comes in the most natural way. ‘
Go to tiny.cc/covidsleep to participate in the sleep study at Oxford University