The year 2020 has been a year of enormous stress.
For many people, an unfortunate consequence is the inability to sleep -- and that can have a serious impact on your health.
“I have never seen so many things come together in this sort of perfect storm,” said psychologist Dr. Lise Deguire.
Coronavirus, politics, isolation, jobs, schools -- it’s impossible to not feel stress over the past year. Health experts agree that you have to take stress seriously, because it’s not just about feeling anxious or sad.
“In addition to that, stress is actually physically dangerous,” said Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a cardiologist and psychotherapist. “And your organs are reacting. Some people can feel it. Some people can’t.”
“Stress is a risk factor for cancer,” Deguire added.
Stress can impact blood pressure, the immune system, cause heart issues and more.
Whether or not we take steps to manage our stress has serious consequences for our health. Dr. Gary Trock, a sleep specialist at Beaumont Hospital, said stress can rob you of a good night’s sleep and the benefits sleep offers.
“Sleep is critical for immune functions. Poor quality or not enough sleep can cause reduced immunity,” Trock said.
One major problem is that as a 24-hour culture, we undervalue sleep and come up with lots of excuses why we don’t get enough.
“‘The kids, the job, I like to read at night,’ -- There are all kinds of excuses,” Trock said. “But you’re absolutely right. It really is undervalued.”
How much sleep do you need? And what should you do to get a better night’s sleep?
“Healthy sleep for the average adult should be between seven and eight hours a night,” Trock said. “Consistent bedtime is very important. It’s not a good idea to be doing work with your computer in your sleep room. If sleep is an issue, you should have no caffeine after noon. And alcohol within two hours of going to bed can also disrupt sleep.”
It might not sound like too much fun, but it’s better than creating a lifetime of poor health.
We surveyed our Morning Report newsletter subscribers to learn more about sleep habits during the pandemic.
More than 550 people responded to the survey.