It is normal to find it difficult to fall asleep or wake up several times during the night breaking the cycle. These are called “sleep disorders“.
Sleep is a restorative activity that our body needs to function properly. Sleep disorders are not a serious disease, however, the consequences of not having adequate sleep on a regular basis can be: tiredness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, physical exhaustion, etc.
Why do they occur?
There are different sleep disorders and depending on age, one or the other is more likely to occur. We can classify them into two groups:
Dysomnias: these are alterations in the quantity and quality of sleep, such as insomnia, hypersomnia, sleep-wake rhythm disorders, fear of sleep. These types of disorders usually occur during adolescence or adulthood.
Parasomnias: these are disorders that appear during sleep, such as nightmares, night terrors, bruxism, sleepwalking and enuresis. They are more common during childhood or adolescence.
The origin of these alterations is very varied, sometimes it is due to the existence of other pathologies, sometimes because some pharmacological treatment is taking place that causes it, due to respiratory problems, etc. But one of the most frequent causes, when it does not have a pathological origin, is stress and anxiety.
Confinement has caused a lot of stress in both children and adults. The change of routines, the anxiety about being able to get sick, the anxiety about the new work situation, the overload of tasks -home, work, children-, not being able to leave home, or see family or friends, has generated an emotional overload on everyone. And even more so in older people since the virus attacks them more aggressively. It is normal for children to have nightmares at night or to lose their pee again, for adults to find it difficult to fall asleep or to wake up several times during the night breaking the cycle.
Recommendations to improve sleep quality
Normally, when this crisis caused by the virus ends, the disorders will disappear, but in the meantime we can apply a series of routines to improve sleep:
– Maintain the usual schedules: it is good to continue with the routines, that is, to get up at the same time for both adults and children, establish work and study schedules, meal times and go to bed at the same time all the days.
– Differences between week days and weekends: as in the usual situation, you must have different activities on weekends. That is, it is not good to study or work 7 days a week, the mind needs breaks.
– Change your clothes: getting out of bed and being at home all day in your pajamas is not a good routine. Our body needs to interpret that we are doing different activities.
– Sunlight: so that our body feels when it is day and when it is night, it is recommended that we get to see the sun, either because we go out for a walk, to make purchases or because we put our faces out the window. In addition to all the benefits that the sun can bring us organically, the sun’s rays activate our neurons and start the brain.
– Exercise: you have to do daily physical activity, it can be intense or not, depending on your needs. Keeping the body active helps keep the mind healthy. However, it is better to do exercise before 6 in the afternoon.
– Diet: take care of your diet, a balanced diet prevents heavy digestion and helps you fall asleep. Try to have dinner two hours before going to bed and avoid exciting food and drinks.
– Electronic devices: the light emitted by screens such as a smartphones, tablets or computers alters the rhythms of sleep if used late in the day. If children or adolescents usually use them, it is better that in the afternoon they play with other things or read books.