So, you’ve got diagnosed with COVID-19 and your daily life is impacted? You can’t go to work, you can’t exercise, and the sudden symptom onset has hindered all of your daily activities, including sleep? COVID is known to cause problems with sleeping, especially for those who have already been struggling with their sleep schedule. If you’ve been having troubles with sleeping with or after the COVID-19 infection, rest assured that there is a solution to your problem or several of them.
There are different reasons as to why you can’t sleep once you’ve been infected. Persistent symptoms such as fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, and cough can affect your ability to fall asleep or remain asleep through the night. Studies found that some sleep disorders can cause a more severe case of infection.
This is not only the case with COVID-19 but also other infectious diseases such as flu and other bacterial infections that result in the aforementioned symptoms. Moreover, insomnia can happen as a result of the anxiety and stress that surround those who are infected.
Asymptomatic people can have sleep problems. As they are silently battling the invisible infection, they may find themselves thinking about whether the symptoms will suddenly appear or worsen and whether their day-to-day life will be impacted once the isolation period passes. That is also known as stress-induced insomnia, with some experts referring to it as coronasomnia.
Not being able to fall or stay asleep for too long can hinder your recovery, which is why it’s of utmost importance to identify the reasons and take the necessary actions to improve your sleep schedule.
Being relaxed and getting enough sleep will make your recovery easier and faster because your body will feel strong enough to trigger the mechanisms of ejecting the virus out.
That being said, we wrote this article that will help you identify the causes of covid insomnia and what you can do to improve your sleep. After reading this article, you should be able to take the necessary actions that will ease your sleep times and help you wake up refreshed, regardless of the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Continue reading this article, to know what you should do, and what are the things that you shouldn’t do before sleep when having COVID-19.
Causes of COVID-Related Insomnia
Before we get to the part of taking action to treat COVID-insomnia, let’s take a look at all the causes of it. There are various causes, some people suffer from just one of them, while others experience multiple symptoms of sleep deprivation. Let’s take a look at them all!
Fever is among the first symptoms that appear with COVID. Most symptomatic patients suffer from low-grade fever, and those who have more severe symptoms can have a high-grade fever that can linger for days, or until the person receives the necessary hospital care.
Fever may not cause problems with sleep in COVID patients. It will also cause a lot of difficulties sleeping regardless of the condition you’re facing. However, when you’re experiencing a fever with infection, as it’s rising it’s often accompanied by chills.
It’s no secret that we need to feel cozy as we sail into the dreamland, else the chills are going to make us feel uncomfortable and cold, and we won’t be able to get some shut-eye when we must rest.
Alternatively, those who tend to feel hot flashes and burning up with fever will experience trouble falling asleep, as heat can often hinder our sleep cycle. That’s also why we feel hot in the summer and experience hot flashes and sweating when we go to sleep.
Some studies showed that COVID-19 fever is associated to dizziness, brain fog, fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
That being said, fever is a serious symptom that can cause you to have sleepless nights. That’s why it’s important to bring it down or keep it at bay so that you can get sufficient night’s rest.
Coughing & Shortness of Breath
One of the most serious symptoms is a dry and persistent cough that can linger for months after the other symptoms of the coronavirus have resolved. It has been present in most of the COVID strains, and are often indicative of other condition such as COVID pneumonia.
It’s necessary to take the medicines and other treatment options that will make the cough more progressive and allow you to kick out the phlegm and mucus stuck in your throat or lungs.
Coughing is often accompanied by shortness of breath. It happens when the cough is so persistent and severe that you may face difficulties catching your breath. It can also happen when the oxygen saturation level has dropped below the acceptable level (normal rate: 95-100%) which happens during pneumonia.
Sleeping in different positions than on the back can improve the overall symptoms, but the severe and painful cough can often cause sleep deprivation and insomnia.
Sore Throat & Congestion
With the original coronavirus strain and early mutated strains like the alpha and beta, sore throat was rarely a symptom. With the Delta and Omicron variant, more and more patients report having sore throats and experiencing laryngitis.
Sore throat is often painful, especially if you’re not hydrated and not taking the necessary decongestants, lozenges, and other medicines commonly used for treating viral sore throat.
For people getting infected by newer strains, the sore throat can often feel unbearable and cause severe pain, especially during the night when we’re not getting hydrated enough and the throat and mouth become dry.
Congestion also leads to a lot of mucus being swallowed from the sinuses, which leads to mucus deposits in the throat which can sometimes cause the feeling of suffocation. A lot of people also have difficulties getting used to sleeping while breathing through the mouth and have problems with sleep deprivation.
Among the milder symptoms, this one appears to be the worst one which is why people get sprays and other medicines that can help with congestion. Most commonly, decongestants like Mucinex and cough syrups are used.
Anxiety and stress are something that many people faced even before the pandemic. Unfortunately, anxiety can raise our heartbeat and stress hormone called cortisol which can ultimately lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation. It happens when we’re usually overwhelmed with the information, as some studies showed.
As the coronavirus pandemic emerged, we became bombarded with different information, like the virus traits, the infection rates jumping around the world, many people denying the virus and the vaccine, and much more. This can all cause accumulation of emotions and concerns which can lead to anxiety.
If you’re grouped as a high-risk individual (you have diabetes, heart disease, blood clotting disorder, obesity, and other conditions) understandably, you’re scared of getting infected and potentially having worse consequences that could get your life in danger.
Alternatively, if you live with high-risk family members, you’ll be anxious about infecting them, which can lead to sleep deprivation. Being empathetic and concerned about millions of people getting infected on daily basis is also what can lead to stress-induced anxiety and problems with sleeping.
Uncovering the right mechanisms to sustain yourself is what should help you deal with these emotions.
Nightmares & Night Terrors
Finally, our fear can extend so far that we’ll be experiencing nightmares and night terrors in fear of what will happen to us. Nightmares can emerge as a result of us being afraid about what will happen to us, whether our health situation will get worse or are we going to get even sicker and end up in hospital.
Healthy people may be scared of getting infected or infecting their loved ones after exposure to the virus. The fear may even worsen if you or someone you love has already been infected and you don’t want something bad to happen to them.
How to Sleep With Covid?
We successfully uncovered the potential causes of disrupted sleep, regardless of whether you have COVID or you’re afraid of getting it. Let’s tackle these causes now, and provide helpful solutions to your sleep-related problems that work!
Listen to Your Body
Some sleep experts suggest going to bed earlier so that you can give your body all the necessary time to rest. However, that may not always help. People experience a plethora of different symptoms when they’re infected with COVID. They may feel better and then relapse again the next day.
Sleeping earlier may be good for your body. It’ll allow your energy to restore and your immune system to be more effective at fighting COVID. However, if you don’t feel that bad, you can sleep when you don’t feel sufficiently tired to need sleep. Of course, you shouldn’t stay up late and deprive yourself of sleep, but if you don’t feel tired, and don’t have a fever, nothing can force you to go to bed early.
Editor’s notes: You should never force yourself to stay awake, however. Listen to your body signals and if you feel like you need rest, don’t shy away from getting it. Nothing stops you from laying and resting in bed, but still, take a small walk around the house now and then.
Elevate Your Head
Elevating your head can be helpful for people who are coughing during the night, as well as people who are congested and may start choking on the mucus in their throat. This can be quite irritating and potentially scary for people who are afraid of choking in their sleep.
Needless to say, it’s necessary to air your room before sleep, but it’s hard to maintain your fever at a low level, as well as chills which are a common symptom of COVID. That being said, elevating your head with the use of several pillows can help position your spine in a neutral position and cause the mucus to come back up.
Editor’s notes: There are additional things that you can do and improve your sleep by elevating your head:
- Use at least two pillows, with cotton or silk pillowcases so that you can feel cool while laying on them.
- If you don’t have any severe symptoms but simply feel congested, it’s okay to sleep on your back if you find it more comfortable.
- If you have severe cough mild or moderate pneumonia which you treat at home, you should sleep on your side or stomach so that you give more space to your chest and back to expand the lungs.
- If you’re a stomach sleeper and you prefer sleeping on your stomach to alleviate the pneumonia symptoms on your back use fewer layers of pillows as stomach sleepers are used to low-profile pillows.
- If you’re a side sleeper use one of the decorative or smaller pillows and place them between your thighs to give your body an even more neutral sleep position.
- Lastly, to remain cool use sheets and covers made out of breathable material like cotton.
We’ll talk about the beverages and hydration later, let’s talk about staying hydrated in sense of treating fever. Here are different things that work. If you have a low-grade fever and you want to battle it and have your body defeat the virus on your own, you should do so during the day and simply take the medicines at the night.
However, keeping a wet sheet on your forehead, splashing your forehead, cheeks, neck, and armpits can help you take care of the fever while you’re on medicines. If you live alone, it’d be best to keep a bowl with lukewarm or cold water next to your bad, so that you could rub water in your forehead and eyes on your own.
Editor’s notes: There are some other things that you can do such as:
- Place a wet sheet on your forehead and keep it there as you sleep, with it seemingly delivering good results when it comes to lowering your fever.
- Another thing that you can do to lower your fever is taking a shower in the evening in lukewarm or cool water and refresh your body.
- If your fever isn’t high, or you don’t have fever you can always shower and bathe in warmer water and ensure that the water is touching your chest, upper back, and neck. That way, you can soften the mucus and have an easier time coughing it out.
When it comes to hydration, it’s of utmost importance to make sure you’re getting enough fluids in yourself. That includes drinking enough water, tea, and other hydrating beverages. Another drink that you can have is warm lemon juice as it’s known to keep you hydrated and also improve congestion in the throat.
In addition to water, you should also take the vitamins, but not during the time of sleep. What can help is drinking Magnesium cocktails as magnesium can help relax your muscles and allow you to fall asleep easier.
Editor’s notes: Alcohol is known to help people fall asleep. However, drinking alcohol is strictly not recommended during COVID infection as it can lead to worsening of your symptoms.
Hot Water Bottle for Chills
Some people who are infected with COVID may have chills. Sometimes, chills are accompanied by a rising fever. For a lot of people who experience chills accompanied by fever, it means that their fever is rising.
However, some people can feel really cold and have chills without actually having COVID. It’s common among milder cases who usually resolve their symptoms in a few days. Using a hot water bottle and placing it by your feet in the evening can allow you to warm up swiftly.
Most people having chills have cold feet because it’s quite difficult to circulate the blood to the feet when you’re struggling with blood circulation. Luckily, a hot water bottle allows you to warm up quickly.
Editor’s notes: Using a hot water bottle is not recommended in three situations:
- In the summer, when the weather is hot and dry, a hot water bottle may warm up your room, even more, giving you difficulties sleeping.
- If you have a fever, avoid using a hot water bottle as that may warm your body even more and cause an even greater spike in fever.
- If you have diabetes and peripheral neuropathy or some other nerve damage, you should avoid getting the bottle too warm so that your skin doesn’t burn.
Sleeping With Cough
Out of all symptoms, dry and persistent cough may be the worst one. Sleeping while you’re persistently coughing to catch breath may be extremely difficult. Doctors should give you a piece of advice on how to sleep given your condition, but there are further things that can help.
One of the best things to do is avoid sleeping on the back, as that pushes more pressure on your respiratory system. Getting a humidifier could also help you dissolve the thick mucus and phlegm and allow you to cough it out, meaning that your cough would get more progressive.
- In consultation with a doctor, you could even get an inhaler or a nebulizer that would help you cough.
- Make sure to get a smart band or a pulse oximeter and monitor your oxygen. Monitoring your oxygen saturation in sleep could even help you assess your true state.
Finally, if you’re concerned about anxiety and stress amidst the pandemic, or you’re worried that your symptoms will get worse, you should consider getting a journal where you can share your worries before sleep. That’s a good way for relieving yourself and get rid of negative thoughts.
If you’re experiencing nightmares, you can also try writing them down and try to seek the meaning behind them in sense of how your brain processes and manifests your fears.
Sleeping With Long Covid
Many people who recovered from COVID fall victims to long COVID. It can happen even to people with mild and little to no symptoms of the coronavirus disease. Many symptoms can linger for months and one of them is sleep deprivation and insomnia, as per study that looks into COVID survivors.
The wisest thing you can do is consult with your doctor and even get an appointment with a therapist who can point you to the right medication and supplementation. Some people have Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 deficiency which can lead to insomnia, which is why some health experts recommend these supplements.
Finally, you should try to get out of your house and engage in moderate physical activities. Make sure to eat nutritious foods and not eat too soon to bedtime. Keeping a journal of your symptoms and emotions is what helped a lot of people take back control of their sleep.
One thing is for sure, it’ll pass. If you take the measures necessary to improve your symptoms, they’ll disappear with time and dedication, so don’t give up! And don’t hesitate from visiting a doctor because proper therapy can even speed up your recovery.