How The Pandemic Has Damaged Our Sleep Habits And How Buying A New Mattress Can Help…An Expert’s Report

The reality of the damage caused by our empty social interactions during the pandemic has a direct effect on the equality of our sleep. It is likely that one of the solutions consumers are using to help improve their sleep hygiene and sleep quality is buying a mattress.

We are social creatures by nature, and Zoom meetings, phone calls, and text messaging all day from home, can’t replace the intimacy and “skin on skin” contact of face to face conversations and interactions. 

Much is lost with two dimensional communication, and most of us are feeling isolated, resulted in delayed sleep induction (falling to sleep), and light sleep without deep REM activity that provides the restorative qualities needed by our brains.

According to a 2020 State Of America’s Sleep Survey, four out of ten Americans described their sleep as poor or slightly above fair. The study was first conducted in January 2020, with a followup at the end of March to consider the impact of COVID-19. Further, even more Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, which quickly builds a deficit resulting in cascading effects which affect our health.

The study found a clear desire for and enjoyment of social interactions with co-workers, friends in small to medium sized gatherings, and extended family gatherings. Many middle aged children of aging parents are unable to visit them in care facilities, the result of total lockdowns for fear of spreading the deadly virus in vulnerable populations.

Most survey respondents, that is over 90% indicated that they enjoy spending time with their spouse and children, and over 82% of those surveyed indicated that they had positive relationships with their spouses and/or children. A whopping 74% of those questioned stated that spending time with a parent was essential to their well being.

Over half of all Americans indicated that they enjoyed spending time with their extended families, and nearly 75% expressed a deep joy of working with their co-workers during the day. 

Obviously, the lack of social interaction has had a profound effect on all of us, with cases of clinical depression on the rise, loneliness, isolation, and the lack of stimulation- is taking a large toll on us.

How Buying A New Mattress Can Lift You Up And Improve Sleep

Taken as a whole, we are all trying to do something to improve our sleep situations, and buying a new mattress can be a cathartic and stimulating experience, especially since it’s so easy to buy a new mattress online. Most consumers are avoiding visiting their local mattress showrooms, and online sales reflect this trend.

The ease of purchasing a mattress, and the experience of visiting several web sites to understand how they are made, the benefits of each kind of mattress, and the comfort and support descriptions, are all a kind of ASMR experience and the buying experience alone is cathartic and productive.

The anticipation of waiting for your new “nest” to arrive is distracting, exciting, and a whole lot of fun. Most consumers who buy a “bed in a  box” mattress describe the sensation and experience of starting over with a new mattress as giving them profound satisfaction. 

Can buying a new mattress actually help improve our well being? The answer is likely yes, and here is why. For one, buying a mattress online is easier than visiting a showroom, because you don’t have to deal with hovering salespeople, the confusion and intentional upsetting that is part of the game, and the fact that one visit will take up your entire Saturday.

When buying a new mattress, a few things need to be considered to make sure you get an improvement over the current mattress you own. We advise making a list of the top five things that you don’t like about the mattress you are currently sleeping on.

The end goal is to improve your sleep by getting you to fall asleep sooner and faster, and to keep you there. Here is our punch list of the key things you should look for when buying a mattress to improve sleep, lift your mood, and increase your dopamine response (the brain chemical that elevates mood and increases happiness and can reduce depression and loneliness).

  • Go a little softer than you normally would venture. A softer mattress is more embracing and cradles your body by increasing the contact area with your body. It’s kind of like the “return to the womb” concept, but it actually can help improve mood and increase the quality of sleep induction.

  • If you don’t already own a king sized bed, especially if you have a sleep partner and pets, upgrade to a king. You won’t regret it, and the extra room provides unrestricted movement, and sprawling is something that other large mammals do to relax themselves and relieve tired and strained musculature.

  • Consider a memory foam mattress with either gel foam or a latex layer included in the composition. It is highly effective at relieving pressure points, and has a more cloud like feel without sacrificing support and necessary firmness for spine alignment. We recommend the Puffy Mattress lineup for best results.

  • Buy new sheets. Get high thread count sheets with some weight, like 600 or above. Try bamboo sheets, as they glide across the skin, breathe effectively, and improve your sleep experience by not feeling coarse. Also consider a weighted blanket for its calming and soothing properties. Weighted blankets are a hot commodity during stressful periods of time as they reduce anxiety as well.

Harvard University Writes Piece On Pandemic And Sleep Deprivation

According to a piece written by Harvard educators, sleep is emerging as the latest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many sleepless nights can produce both physical and mental health problems, and even buying a new mattress can help relieve some of the symptoms brought on by social isolation and the anxiety of suddenly having to adapt to a new lifestyle, work schedule, and workplace environment.

 “Coronavirus, social distancing, and acute insomnia: How to avoid chronic sleep problems before they get started” was the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s subject in one of a series of weekly sessions which took direct aim at the emotional and psychological effects of the pandemic.

According to the report, when describing the effect of the COVID19 outbreak as creating a “perfect storm of sleep problems,” Donn Posner, the forum’s featured speaker, pointed out how disrupted daily routines worsen the sleep-robbing stress of the pandemic.

“Think of sleep problems as infection,” said Posner, president of Sleepwell Associates and an adjunct clinical associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. “We want to jump on it quickly. Think of it as a risk factor that we want to get on top of lest it spread.”

Even in normal times, approximately 30 percent to 35 percent of the population experiences acute, or short-term, insomnia, said Posner, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a founding member of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine. 

Defined in the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking too early, this lack of rest is triggered by stress or any event that changes quality of life — a manifestation of the “fight or flight” response to danger — and is different from the sleep deficit caused by too-busy schedules.

“If you can’t sleep do not try to force it. Good sleepers put no effort into sleep whatsoever.” — Donn Posner

Citing a study by the National Initiative for Tracking and Evaluating Sleeplessness (NITES) at the University of Pennsylvania, Posner noted that in more than 72 percent of cases, short-term insomnia resolves itself. 

However, recovery was not always complete or final, and 6.8 percent developed full-blown chronic insomnia, defined by the DSM as having sleep issues at least three nights a week for at least three months.

As new schedules have us resetting — or turning off — alarm clocks and often getting less outdoor time and exercise, these problems are getting worse. “The actions that we’re taking to protect ourselves can not only precipitate problems with sleep, but lead to chronic problems with sleep,” Posner said.

The implications are severe. In addition to the cognitive consequences, from inability to focus to general irritability, chronic insomnia is correlated with a spectrum of serious health problems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Implicated in obesity, insomnia makes losing weight more difficult, and recent studies also link it to increased risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. 

Mental health problems are complicated by a lack of sleep. Insomnia lasting two to four weeks increases the risk of depression, Posner said, while lack of sleep is also linked to a poorer response to treatment. “So it interferes with the ability to recover from depression as well,” he said.

Ways To Redirect Our Response To COVID19 Anxieties

To nip insomnia in the bud, Posner recommended simple behavioral changes. For example, even though it may seem counterintuitive after a lost night’s sleep, avoid napping, or at least cut it short. Likening naps to snacks, he warned that napping for longer than 20 minutes or late in the day ruins our “appetite” for sleep. 

Likewise, he dispelled the idea that sleeping late on weekends or after a night tossing and turning can make up for lost sleep. “Do not try to compensate for a bad night’s sleep,” he said; it only further disrupts one’s regular rhythms.

Posner noted that we do not have to maintain our former sleep and waking times, which may have been set by the necessities of a daily commute. “Keep a rhythm, even if it’s a different time of day than it used to be,” he said. Parents of adolescents in particular may want to let their children go to bed and rise later than usual, as their growing bodies are set differently than adults or young children’s. 

Once awake, however, try to get some sunlight, whether by taking a walk or sitting by a window. Keeping a regular schedule for meals and exercise helps, as does avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and electronic devices for several hours before bed. 

Finally, if sleeps proves impossible, get out of bed. Do something relaxing — read or do a puzzle. Worrying about sleep exacerbates the problem, so try to distract yourself and keep your bed a place of sanctuary.

“If you can’t sleep do not try to force it,” said Posner. “Good sleepers put no effort into sleep whatsoever.”