Let’s Be Blunt: I Have Coronasomnia
I took my sleep for granted the past year. With the pandemic (and being a fresh graduate without an immediate job), I thought I could stay up all night. Having no regard for the next day, all in the safety of my bedroom. Basically “waiting for all this to blow over,” as Simon Pegg said in Shaun of the Dead. Playing video games, surfing the net, all the things that involve screens. But with the power of hindsight, I soon realized I was having Coronasomnia. I was being a “Coronasomniac.” With that, and my increased germaphobic tendencies as described in the previous post, here, insomnia during this pandemic has become a problem for me. This is one that led that to a domino effect of stress!
Diminished bedtimes made drastic effects on my moods and productivity. The disruptions in my regular sleep cycles and body clock led to drastic changes in routine— only made more drastic with conforming to the new normal, plus the added paranoia that comes with it. Speaking of paranoia, that lack of proper sleep does increase that particular sense of unease during the day. All from how it affects moods and emotions.
Cranky mornings and afternoons become common for me (though it’s not unfamiliar considering the all-nighters I pulled up during high school and college). Skipping breakfasts became normal. The immune system got affected negatively by diminished sleep. Afternoons turned into dog days with the crankiness, disruptions, and overall obsessive regard for health and safety cranked up to 11. This begets the germaphobic tendencies as mentioned in a previous essay.
Having a good night sleep is important for a productive day, much like brewing and drinking coffee after a good breakfast. Without that, even hobbies like beat-making are whisked away into stress-induced procrastination. And stress is the common denominator to Coronasomnia.
The Common Cause: Stress
According to an article in Healthline, a common cause for insomnia, in general, is stress. As you may know, stress can give so much anxiety into your mind and bodily system. Racing thoughts and uncontainable emotions push the brain into such a frenzy. It puts relaxation out of the window. And being relaxed is one of the main ways to ease ourselves into dreamland. Without that relaxed state, falling into sleep would feel like a chore.
According to Lisa Medalie, PsyD— in the same Healthline article— when we get stressed, hormones like adrenaline get pumped into our system, causing blood pressure and heart rate to increase. This starts the flight-or-flight mode in your system, making you distracted from going into your regular sleep cycle.
SEE ALSO: Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
Avoiding Revenge Bedtime Procrastination to Beat Coronasomnia
Lacking a good night sleep does increase the stress facing the day too, as in my experience it does affect moods negatively— that “getting out of the wrong side of the bed” situation. And with this case of Coronasomnia, this increased stress is now heightened to the point of 11, in my case. The stress of not mishandling health and safety regulations, the stress of getting as minimal contact as possible, etc.
This is especially exasperating in my experience as I have exhibited germaphobic tendencies over the past year. And it is, for the lack of a better word, stressful. Thoughts of “missing the spot” in cleaning, bathing, and disinfecting do put my mind in such a racing frenzy. It just eats up my time to relax. And since thoughts like these spawn more thoughts via the increase in adrenaline, my bedtime turns into a neurotic night.
And stress throughout the day, even from the morning, may trigger a response called “revenge bedtime procrastination”. According to Sleep Foundation, it’s where your mind/system delays sleep as a response to built-up stress or lack of leisure time throughout the day. I’m assuming that these decisions for delay may be conscious or subconscious And with the stress brought by the pandemic, I’m assuming the likelihood of this type of procrastination happening can increase and seep into anyone’s nightly routines.
I guess that’s why I didn’t sleep well during the first months of the pandemic. Those “waiting for all this to blow over” insomniac nights may be a “vengeful” response to all the stress and paranoia in conforming to the new normal. And that ironically begets more stress for the following day. It’s a vicious cycle.
How to Overcome Coronasomia?
Getting a good night sleep starts with lessening the stress built up from a hard day.
So the tips to get that needed good-night sleep must also include tips to lessen stress in general. Here are some:
Even hours before bedtime, listening to music while working (or just in general) does help a lot in calming the brain and hormones. Notes and timbres are such comforters to the brain— especially pop songs that fit your subjective taste. I guess in my opinion, they provide familiarity to the brain that grounds you in your situation. Of course, listening to instrumental “binaural lo-fi beats” on YouTube does create some calming bass tones— almost ASMR-like— but for me, I just prefer listening to some Yo La Tengo and Radiohead for grounding. Plus it does help in concentration when working.
Don’t be at your computer once your routine bedtime starts, or at any screen in general. I know it’s becoming a cliche at this point when it comes to sleep help, but lately, I’ve been a victim of slaving to the screen way past my bedtime. What you do on your screen, for both work and play, can stimulate your brain to be energized (in layman’s terms). So not using your phone or laptop or game console 30 minutes before your bedtime can help loosen your brain into the calm state needed for dozing off.
Check Out These Apps to Improve Your Sleep Cycle
Sleeping apps on your smartphones can help ease minds into that desired state for slumber. I use the app Sleep Cycle for most of my nights. It can track your hours of sleep plus the quality of deep sleeping you have, all through the microphone or accelerometer. Most importantly, it has downloadable soundscapes and meditative tracks to help you doze off and beat Coronasomnia.
Though it’s not perfect. I don’t know how accurate the tracking is compared to fitness watches and smartwatches, and you’ll have to be a premium member to unlock all available soundscapes and tracks. You can only download one weekly or bi-weekly featured track, and it can get stale. It’s like the brain recognizes the tracks too much, that it subconsciously goes on “revenge mode” and procrastinates. I recommend using streaming apps like Spotify for different soundscapes— if Sleep Cycle’s tracks are getting stale for you.
- Napping in general is such a great way to alleviate stress in my experience. Power naps give such a recharging feeling, don’t you agree? And in terms of apps for napping, I use the app Pzizz. It’s a simple enough app that provides timers, alarms, and soundscapes. It has a sleep timer too, though it doesn’t track the quality of said sleep.
- Breathing exercises at any time of the day can ground anyone into a calm state. I usually do it in the morning and right before bedtime— it’s especially handy right before bedtime. Apps for that would be the Calm app and the Breathe app. Calm is such a great app for more general functions in the name of calming ourselves, not just breathing exercises only.
In a Nutshell
Sleep may seem such a mundane thing in our routines, but it does affect so much during the day— from the immune system to our moods, even to the next slumber session. With the pandemic, that vicious cycle only spreads to more and more people, to more and more days and daily routines. I hope these tips and apps I recommended can help you out with Coronasomnia and I hope that it makes you feel like it’s not a solitary issue on your being.