Special Report: Sleep loss a major issue during the pandemic

Local News

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The pandemic affected millions of people across the world in different ways. One thing many are still trying to adjust to is the sleep loss that came with it. 

“When we don’t sleep, the easiest way to think of it is we’re just not getting the rest and regeneration we’re suppose to,” said Dr. John Austin a Physician Advisor at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen. 

At the start of the pandemic and the transition of working from home, many Americans were faced with a new normal.

“A lot of people changed their schedule or were working from home and so their pattern of all daily activities changed. A lot of them were working different hours, a lot of them were probably around their family or children more than they would have been,” said Dr. Austin.

While many were not getting enough sleep due to stress caused from the pandemic, others were getting too much sleep. 

“There is such a thing as too much sleep and if you are going out of your schedule and you’re taking multiple naps, your body is not going to have its natural circadian rhythm. That’s our sleep rhythm that we our body’s naturally have,” said Dr. Audrey Gutierrez a Family Physician at South Texas Health System.

According to Dr. Austin, sleep loss affects all ages, but there was one particular age group that felt it the most. 

“People my generation or more middle-aged didn’t necessarily ever work from home so that was a big adjustment to them and then all of a sudden going back to the workplace, I see a lot of that where it’s harder for people to go back,” said Dr. Austin.

As people return to work and their daily activities, doctors share some things you can do to help get a good night’s rest. 

“You want to make sure that your lights are more dim about an hour before you plan on going to bed, you want to make sure you’re not on anything with lights,” said Dr. Gutierrez.

“I would definitely try to emphasize to people that they get a pattern try to do the same thing in and out,” said Dr. Austin.

The long-term effects of COVID-19 are still being studied, but sleep loss has been linked to people who’ve been infected. 

“Any time your neurological system is affected it’s going to change the way your body responds to stimulation and stimulus and it’s also going to affect the way your body recuperates from things like that,” said Dr. Austin.

For those struggling to sleep, doctors say it shouldn’t take too long to adjust to a schedule but add that if it continues to be a problem they suggest visiting your primary doctor. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Community Stories