PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Stress and sleep issues go hand-in-hand. Doctors said that is especially true during a pandemic and navigating new normals. They also explained why the pressures of the pandemic can be detrimental to a person's sleep and health. The good news is there are ways to tackle it.
"It's an important thing to get a good night's sleep," Marty Gilman, who knows the troubles first-hand, said. "It really affects your health."
He said navigating new normals during a pandemic is only adding to that.
"I was in a meeting last week and people were talking -- and this was not a sleep meeting -- about the difficulties with sleeping," he said.
Dr. Jose DeOlazabel, the chief of staff at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, specializes in pulmonary and sleep medicine. He said now more than ever, sleep issues are abound.
"It's still a very stressful time for everyone, and it's still hard to get used to what we call the new normal," DeOlazbel said. "It's still the stress of a lot of difficult information that they are getting, the stress of the variants out there, the stress a lot of my patients have had getting the vaccinations in a timely fashion. It all affects their sleep quality."
Like many others, Gilman is working on implementing new strategies to help with sleep.
"I keep a notepad on my night table, so in the middle of the night, when I have something on my mind, I'm not going to let it keep me up," Gilman said. "I am going to jot something down."
DeOlazabel said he's noticing it is hard for patients to turn off their brains at night now. He recommends what he calls "sleep hygiene." He advises patients to avoid caffeine for three to four hours before bedtime. He said in order to turn off the brain, a person has to turn off blue lights and information coming from a phone, tablet or television.
"Things that trick our brain into staying alert, when we should be calming down and powering down," he said.
It's a time when people should be relaxing and sleeping.
"We are getting inundated and bombarded with often difficult news and information," DeOlazabel said.
He said brains and bodies need routine, even on the weekends.
"Try to go to bed at the same time each night. Try to wake up at the same time," he suggested. "By keeping a nice, steady structure, it's a lot healthier."