Life During Quarantine #4 – Sleeping Yes or No?

This seems to be something that so many people are talking about. Disturbed sleep and wild dreams. It’s been both for me. Last week one of the members of the network asked me about this and I delved deeply into the matter. Personally, I have been having deep dreams, layer after layer and so believable as I awake, I think they happened. I have always been a dreamer, but this is different. If I could only record and show as a movie that would be fantastic. Sometimes they are dreams of warning, sometimes dreams being predictive of the future, and occasionally fun. I spoke to friends. One friend was involved in sleep brainwave studies years back and even gave them a call. So here is what I found!

When you don’t get enough sleep, your immune system may not do these things as well, making it less able to defend your body against harmful invaders and making you more likely to get sick. One study published in the July–August 2017 issue of Behavioral Sleep Medicine found that compared with healthy young adults who did not have sleep problems, otherwise healthy young adults with insomnia were more susceptible to the flu even after getting vaccinated. The National Sleep Foundation recommends all adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night to optimize health.

To ensure you get quality sleep, prioritize good sleep hygiene: Turn off the electronics, start winding down two or three hours before bed, and avoid violent movies or conversations.  When we’re not in the midst of a pandemic, getting enough restful sleep at night is already a challenge. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that approximately 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep or wakefulness disorders.  Some reasons you may be losing sleep: the anxiety of becoming infected with the virus or the stress of job loss. Traveling across time zones or staying up a lot later than usual can throw off sleep patterns because we’re asking our bodies to sleep at different times than our bodies’ internal clocks are telling us to sleep. Similarly, people who do rotating shift work, such as overnight workers or truck drivers — for whom it’s difficult to stick to a consistent sleep schedule — tend to have difficulty with sleep because their body clocks run on a different schedule than they’re allowing their bodies to follow.

The sleep during pandemic is very much like when we travel in time zones. We have totally changed our schedules. The longer we have had the same schedule, the disruption of working at home, having to home school children, not leaving our homes, and missing some of the social stimulus and things that would normally expend our energy. Speaking with my friend that worked on a research team, we spoke about dreams. We typically will have 50-60 dreams a night., with about 5 cycles. We may be conscious of 20, but usually, the one we experienced right before we awake. You can with practice remember your dreams by keeping a journal.   I sometimes dream in layers. One particularly vivid one for me was when I just moved back from Europe to Texas. I had a dream, I woke in the dream, realizing I had a dream and I woke up turned the light on grabbed my journal to record it, only to find that I was still dreaming, because I woke up and the light wasn’t on and my journal was still by my desk!

Things that disrupt our sleep/ dream cycle:

  1. Routine changed
  2. More sedentary
  3. Fear of not knowing

“Researchers are starting to study its effects. Melinda Jackson, Ph.D., a senior lecturer who specializes in sleep disorders at the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is heading up one of the first studies on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sleep and insomnia. (Sign up here to participate.) whether there are particular factors, such as chronotype, resilience, personality, and loneliness, which may be protective for sleep, or in fact, detrimental,” she explains. The pandemic has forced Americans—and millions around the world—to be in physical isolation, which also deeply affects your sleep.

Social support is a natural zeitgeber (a circadian rhythm regulator), but the quarantine keeps us away from our family and friends. “Our sleep circadian rhythm depends mostly on sunlight, but it’s also related to social interactions and mealtimes—so disrupting this will disrupt sleep,” says Dr. Rodriguez. While there isn’t a direct relationship between social interactions and circadian rhythms, Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg says that there are other biological clocks in the body, such as food intake, exercise, and taking medications, that affect your circadian rhythm. “You might also be experiencing fragmented sleep and irregular sleep during this pandemic, says Dr. Rodriguez. It’s normal to wake up in the middle of the night (everyone wakes up once or twice each night for a few seconds) because you cycle through four stages of sleep every 90 to 120 minutes. The first two stages (NREM1 and NREM2) are when you have the lightest sleep and can easily be awakened by the heat in your room, for example, but you should be able to go back to sleep.

“Going into REM and going out of REM is when you might have awakenings, but most people don’t remember these awakenings,” says Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg. “As long as you feel good the next day, then these awakenings aren’t really a problem,” she says. “In fact, some people with insomnia or delayed sleep phase disorder are actually sleeping better, now that the pressure is off for them to get up for school or work,” explains Jackson. (Delayed sleep phase disorder is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder in which your sleep pattern is delayed two hours or more from a conventional sleep pattern, causing you to go to sleep later and wake up later, according to The Mayo Clinic.)Your body heals and regenerates while you sleep, making adequate sleep critical for a healthy immune response. Sleep is a time when your body produces and distributes key immune cells like cytokines (a type of protein that can either fight or promote inflammation), T cells (a type of white blood cell that regulates immune response), and interleukin 12 (a pro-inflammatory cytokine), according to a review published in  Pflugers Archiv European Journal of Physiology.

“Several studies have shown the benefit of a good night’s sleep for the immune system. Certain cytokines have been linked to NREM, aka non-rapid eye movement sleep,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “Cytokines are substances that modulate the immune response and could be affected by sleep deprivation,” he explains. During stage 3 of NREM sleep, which is also known as slow-wave sleep, research shows that more growth hormones, like prolactin—which helps with immunity—are released and cortisol levels are decreased, creating an ideal environment for immune cells to attack viruses, says Dr. Abbasi-Feinberg. This stage of sleep is also when your body gets into a restorative state to heal and repair. (And that includes repairing muscles after a tough workout.)

If you do want to get your sleep schedule back on track, you’re going to need to reset your body clock. Our body clocks regulate our bodies’ circadian rhythms — the patterns of physical, mental, and behavioral changes, including sleep patterns, regulated by body temperature, hormone secretion, and external factors like light and darkness — according to the National Institutes of Health. Our body’s master clock is located in a part of the brain’s hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which receives light information from the retina in the eye and sends the information to other parts of the brain, including the gland that releases the sleep-signaling hormone, melatonin, says Rochelle Zozula, Ph.D., a sleep specialist and owner of Sleep Services International in Bridgewater, New Jersey. “Light suppresses that production of melatonin, which is directly involved in sleep initiation,” she says.

Suggestions to help:

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day
  • Adjust your bedtime, be patient.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine.
  • Don’t do work in bed.
  • Do not nap, even if you feel tired.
  • Be strict about sticking to your sleep schedule.
  • De-stress before bed.
  • Set the mood and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Take a warm bath and play some relaxing music
  • Try melatonin (with monitoring by a health professional)
  • Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider.
  • Do not sleep in, get up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid eating or exercising too close to bedtime.
  • Avoid exposure to light before you want to sleep.
  • Stay connected. Be kind to yourself.


Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
I took the less-traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, and textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses (a bakery, a gallery, and a consulting business) thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. Participating in the creation of startups, working in design, and my own businesses and technology endeavors. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast. A lifelong passion for textiles and Persian rugs taught me an array of professional skills such as research, writing, and community events. Networking resulted in a multitude of business opportunities. My experiences include Management, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Design, Descriptive Writing, Business Strategy, Color, and Textiles. Every facet of my work and life comes together like pieces of a puzzle. I strive to be a phenomenal networker and problem solver who continues to learn and grow.

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