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Having Sleep Issues During The Pandemic? You’re Not Alone

People are saying they are experiencing bouts of insomnia during the coronavirus pandemic.
Angie Wang for NPR
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Have you had problems sleeping during the coronavirus pandemic? If so, you’re not alone.

Loss of routines and social isolation during the pandemic are just a couple factors causing people to get less-than-ideal sleep. And, while it’s not uncommon for people to experience acute or short-term insomnia, serious physical and mental problems can arise from a lack of sleep.

“Worry and anxiety could disrupt sleep and promote problems such as insomnia,” Dr. Joseph Espiritu of the SLUCare Sleep Disorders Center told St. Louis on the Air Friday. “Maybe some of our listeners know someone who has been ill of [COVID-19], and all of us are worried.”

Espiritu had several suggestions for getting better sleep:

  • Sleep diary: “Most people need 7.5 hours of sleep, but others may need a little less or a little bit more. A sleep diary would help anyone to figure out what their optimal total sleep time should be in terms of how they feel during the daytime.”
  • Regularity: “Keep a regular bedtime and wake time, not varying your wake times by more than an hour.”
  • Electronic devices: “Those devices that are connected to your Wi-Fi, those are the major culprits for bad sleep hygiene and insomnia in some folks, so make sure that you don’t use your computer, tablets or Wi-Fi devices in the bedroom, especially near bedtime.”
  • Exercise: “The recommendation is around 150 minutes a week.”

Other suggestions included paying close attention to how much alcohol and caffeine you’re drinking, trying to take 15-minute breaks throughout the day to list your worries rather than watching cable news, and seeking social and emotional support in various ways. 
Listen to the conversation:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.