Expert Advice: How to Combat Pandemic Sleep Loss

According to a recent study from the American Academy of Sleep, about 44 percent of Americans are losing sleep over the COVID-19 pandemic. Northern Virginia adult and family medicine physician Jason Singh, MD, spoke with WTOP about how to combat pandemic-related sleep loss.

“Sleep is your brain’s way of preparing you for the next day by creating new pathways to help you learn and remember things. It also enhances your focus, your creativity and decision-making abilities,” Dr. Singh said. “When we’re lacking sleep, we tend to be more irritable, more forgetful and fatigued. And this can strain your relationships and job performance.”

To counter the effects of sleep deprivation, Dr. Singh recommended patients practice good sleep hygiene, eat a balanced diet, limit alcohol and caffeine intake and reduce screen time before bed. He also said over-the-counter products like melatonin can help people who are struggling with sleep.

“Melatonin is incredibly helpful in situations like this, where we want to help encourage sleep and calibrate to a proper sleep cycle,” Dr. Singh said.

Dr. Singh noted that sleep problems can also be a symptom of an underlying health problem.

“Sleep disturbance can also be a symptom of mental health issues. If you’re having anxiety or depression, it’s really important to seek help and come talk to your doctor as well,” Dr. Singh said.