COVID-19 keeping you awake? Here’s how to get more sleep

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many cancer patients and caregivers were already experiencing insomnia. And now, the added challenges of the coronavirus pandemic are taking worry to a whole new level – what some are calling coronasomnia. “Cancer patients have been hit with a double whammy,” says Dave Balachandran, M.D., medical director of the MD Anderson Sleep Center. “They’re anxious and missing the lives they had before cancer, and COVID-19 turned everything upside down.” Emotions like these can lead to sleep loss. “That’s unfortunate,” Balachandran says, “because sleeping well improves mood, reduces anxiety and better equips you to cope with challenges, including the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic. Ample sleep also supports the immune system, which helps defend your body against infections.” Most adults need between seven and eight hours sleep, but that requirement can vary based on lifestyle and your overall health, Balachandran says. How can you curb COVID-19-induced insomnia? The good news is that there are several things you can do to improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep. Balachandran offers these tips to ease insomnia for cancer patients, caregivers – and anyone struggling to sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic: Stick to a consistent sleep-wake schedule. Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Resist sleeping in. Follow a daily routine. Doing the same thing each day and having a steady daily routine increases your likelihood of sleeping well at night. Engage in light physical activity. When you’re stuck at home, you may need to get creative. Walk up and down stairs, lift soup cans or find a yoga video...