The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health in general. Amid this global pandemic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed but getting a good night’s sleep can help improve your mood and ease anxiety. Sleep is something a lot of us take for granted and is something we should all have more off, yet it’s so elusive especially in this time of crisis.
What is happening to our sleep?
As human beings when we are tired we are programmed to shut down and when our mind shuts down this leads our bodies to go into a state of rest. However, when the mind senses danger it goes on high alert and feel it needs to remain conscious in case it needs to react. This is how the brain believes that it is protecting you from danger. But this means there is no hope for rest and the body will not regain that energy it usually regains when it gets enough sleep. This is when we hear the term ‘I am a zombie’ because the body and the mind are fighting each other, one to stay awake and the other to sleep. This has happened to a lot of people during this world crisis, with the fear and anxieties of illness, loss and dread of what is to come many people’s minds are protecting them from danger. However the cure is quite simple, sleep can help the body and the mind cope during this strange time.
How and why sleep can help
1- Sleep helps when you are ill:
If it so happens that you have been exposed to Covid-19 and you are not well, sleep can play a major role in the recovery process. When you sleep your body reserves all its energy to fight against the viral infection. The antibodies and cells that fight off infection are produced more and work more efficiently in their fight against infectious diseases. It has also been proven that vaccines for these viral infections work better when one is getting enough sleep.
2- Potential to gain weight:
In this time almost everyone has had to go under lockdown to stay safe and keep their loved ones safe. This means they are at home and this is not usually the case for them. When you are idle and anxious the most natural thing to do is eat, stress eats just as a distraction. Because you are anxious you keep eating and end up making mid-night snacks as a habit and this will lead to weight gain. When you sleep well you will be able to fight off these urges, your body will produce a hormone called leptin which notifies your brain that you are full and you no longer need for. Sleep helps to curb cravings and you will not wake up for food in the middle of the night.
3- Sleep prevents the development of other conditions:
Stress and anxiety during this time can give rise to the development of other conditions. When you sleep well your heart is not forced to work harder. The body will release a hormone known as cortisol when it is tired and this will give rise to high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes. When you sleep the body’s organs are also released from a lot of pressure and can function a lot better.
4- Sleep will give you a better perspective:
After a good night’s sleep, one wakes up refreshed and with a clearer mind. Even though everything going on seems scary and unprecedented it is easier to see a silver lining when you are not as tired. When you have a good sleep your energy levels are boosted and you can find something to preoccupy your time, keep busy and focus less on the negatives. It will also help the mood of the people around you when you are in good spirits.
5- Sleep helps productivity:
Everything in this time has been turned upside down. Even how we work has had to be an adjustment. We are not used to working from home, and the thought that is my work safe and guaranteed can mess up with how you work and the quality of work. However, if you sleep well you can deal with anything thinking outside the box and adjusting to new environments is easier. Performance improves after the mind has rested.
6- Sleep helps your judgement:
When you do not get enough sleep the mind is frazzled and you do not think clearly. It is very possible in this time to make the wrong judgment call that can even put you and your loved ones at risk. It is so easy to give in and say you are going to visit someone when you should be in quarantine, or to drive recklessly when you should be careful. When your mind is rested you will think more rationally and make better decisions.
7- Sleep helps your memory:
This is not the time to be suffering from memory loss. When you sleep well your memory is intact and consolidated. When you are tired you can experience memory lapses, you can forget work duties or forget important things that need your attention. During a crisis like this, a simple mistake like forgetting to sanitize your hands or wearing your mask can be detrimental to life. Good sleep can help prevents such slips.
Health is wealth
Staying involved, eating well and having a good night’s sleep is nothing new to staying well. But with the current crisis that we face, a good night’s sleep is a key component to face the day ahead. If you’re a researcher, a good night’s sleep helps you connect ideas while you’re in front of a Word document. If you’re an entrepreneur, a good night’s sleep will give you more motivation to make the crucial move for investors.
And if you live in the world we’re in right now a good night’s sleep will help keep you safe