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Wear The Gown: The pandemic is the perfect storm for sleep disorders

A more structured day can help you get better sleep, experts say.

SAN ANTONIO — For more than a year now we've been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, and for many that also means more than a year of new sleep problems for many different reasons. 

The pandemic is the perfect storm for sleep disorders. Working from home brings up a lot of anxiety and has caused a lot of people to change their daily habits, experts say. The best thing you can do is to try to make your daily life as structured as possible. 

"Being confined in a location is causing undue stress on people and that is translating into trouble with sleeping," said Dr. Suhaib Haq, who is a family medicine physician and sleep medicine specialist with University Health and the Medical Director for the Robert L.M. Hilliard Center.

He says longer hours resulting from working from home adds to screen time and subtracts from sleep.

"People are getting exposed to more bright light because of prolonged screen times, so all of these are affecting people's sleep and those who are predisposed to insomnia and poor sleep they are getting the worst of it," Dr. Haq said.

Experts say to better structure your day, make a set schedule. Go to bed at the same time each day. Wake up at the same time every day. Eat meals at the same time every day too. Set aside time for regular exercise. And for children build in some time for play.

"These are all social cues that help plan sleep in our brain," Dr. Haq said. "We need to do a conscious effort to work on a better schedule that can help promote better sleep."

Better sleep tonight, means a better day tomorrow.

"As a sleep doctor I'm more biased to pushing to a healthier sleep, so I want all the patients to make sleep their priority, because if you don't have a good sleep and then you aren't going to have a good day," Dr. Haq said.

He also says if you are having sleep problems avoid alcohol. A lot of people use it to de-stress, and it may help you fall asleep, but once it is broken down in your body, it wakes your brain back up.

For more information about family health call (210) 358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, click here.