Experts explain that the lack of routine, exercise, and sunlight, combined with anxiety and fear of imminent risks, directly affect the quality of sleep. Learn how to get around this.
The Covid-19 pandemic has suddenly changed people’s lives. Social distancing, a measure that helps to flatten the contagion curve of the new coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2), forced us to reorganize our daily lives at home, often increasing the level of stress.
One of the consequences of so much change and tension is insomnia, which is nothing more than the difficulty of falling asleep or sleeping all night. Data made available by Google show that “insomnia” was the most searched keyword on the platform in April. The subject is almost always related to quarantine and drugs – the search for “sleeping pills” increased 130% in the past month.
If that’s your case, take it easy: sleeping difficulties can be normal, considering this moment of uncertainty, where we are constantly bombarded with bad news. But some habits can help improve your sleep quality – and avoiding them tends to make it worse.
Avoiding exposure to the sun is one of these factors, since sunlight synchronizes the circadian rhythm – our biological clock, responsible for determining periods of high and low energy throughout the day, letting the body know when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to sleep.
“The lack of sunlight inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Synchronized with the end of daylight, it is produced to prepare us for the night,” explains neurologist Gisele Minhoto, professor at the School of Medicine of the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná, in Brazil. So, one way to help the body fight insomnia can be to open windows and curtains during the day and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning.
Another practice that should not be overlooked is physical exercise. Standing still affects the amount of energy that should be expended throughout the day, and we are less tired when we go to sleep. “Practicing exercises, even at home, is essential to regulate the body. Gyms provide easy to use applications for users to have their training guided,” recommends Minhoto.
Other guidelines to help keep insomnia away are eating at regular times, slowing down activity at dusk, avoiding using tablets and smartphones for at least two hours before going to bed, and doing everything possible to lie down and get up always at the same time. “Doing monotonous activities, such as reading a book or listening to quiet music if you are unable to sleep, can help sleep to come. However, thinking that you need to sleep soon can increase stress and prevent sleep,” says the doctor.
Although insomnia does not pose a health risk on its own, it can become chronic and end up affecting the body and mind in other ways. According to doctor Gustavo Moreira, a researcher at the Instituto do Sono, in Brazil, not sleeping well for a long time can cause tiredness, anxiety, irritability, and even depression.
Pay attention if you have insomnia more than three times a week for at least three consecutive months. If this is happening to you, you should seek medical advice.