Covid, death and how it messes up your sleep
Today I'm going to be a very blunt Christine, as I pretty much always try to be, and we are going to talk about why COVID is messing up our sleep. It's going to get a little bit dark.
Covid, death and how it messes up your sleep
Let me give you the backstory. A very prominent cosmetics company approached me as their media expert on sleep and some of their questions were: Why do we have such vivid dreams during COVID? Why are we having issues sleeping? Why are people so stressed?
I gave them a very blunt answer, and I was then asked to tone it down a little bit, make it less depressing, and I did. But I am a very straightforward person, so I honestly want to be very straightforward and blunt and honest with you right now. It's a little bit more of a personal essay, maybe, than just pure science.
But here's the deal: never have we been confronted with our own mortality to such an extent. Most of us, or pretty much none of us, depending on where you are, have gone through phases where you were confronted with your mortality in such a way. In Europe, it's a bit different because the main phases, historically, were obviously the two World Wars, where there was death all around. In the U.S. it's different because you still were present in war zones. So that is different from us over here, and globally, there are different scenarios too.
But this is an event that you cannot skip because it's everywhere. You cannot escape from it. Ultimately what COVID means is the potential of dying.
It's the potential of catching a virus, and either you will die or you will make someone else sick and they will die. This is obviously an extreme way of saying things, but it's ultimately where we are going with every article, with every preventative measure. We are confronted with a death toll daily, like lottery tickets. “This is how many people have died today.” It's something we as humans don't cope with very well.
In general, we do not like to be reminded that we are not in control of our death 99% of the time. It's the unknown, which we don't like. We just don't deal with it very well. Very often, we deal better with bad news than with not knowing at all.
So this is just not knowing where this is going or how this is going to pan out. All this insecurity is draining. It brings out our worst fears. It reminds us of our fragility. It might also trigger our guilt that we are not paying more attention to our immune system and our body. On top of that, a lot of us have a still-stressful general life. Emotionally, this is a lot to deal with.
So it’s no surprise that your sleep, especially for those of you who have a more fickle sleep (and as you know, I categorize sleep as a person; some have a very chillaxed, Labrador sleep and some have a Chihuahua sleep that's more anxious) – so, especially those of you who are a little bit more sensitive, you’ll have a harder time with this.
We don't talk enough about this. We don't like to talk about this. Death is not comfortable. It's not something we want to be reminded of, but I do think that it's very, very important to deal with this at some point and to make decisions that will help you to be happy and help you to take action steps to reaffirm that you're actually living a life that you like, so that even if something happens tomorrow, you can say, “I've lived a life that I'm proud of, that I don't have regrets about. Or at least I tried to change it for the better, as soon as I became self-aware of that.”
So today I'm going to give you a little assignment. It's not a sleep theory kind of thing, but it will ultimately help your sleep because it will bring peace.
Sit down and have a good talk with yourself about what death means to you:
- What are you afraid of?
- What would be your regrets if it happened tomorrow?
- What can you change today?
It’s just a little thing. I love doing these things while I’m on a walk or in my car, literally talking to myself, but obviously journaling is also an amazing strategy. Or if you have a great friend who you know is not going to judge you on all the weird things that are happening in your head, then that's great too. Or talk to your cat or your dog. They usually listen very well.
This is going to help you to get all of this Covid and other circus out of your head. It will not leave everything to be dealt with in your sleep. (Have a look at this blog post about Emotions and Sleep). I really think that this can be very, very helpful. Let me know how it goes. I promise you, I'm not judgmental; you can be as gloomy as you want to, but do take an action step towards that: “This is my life and this is the stuff I can do so that I can assume responsibility for it, knowing that I've done my best.”
I'm excited to hear what you've been doing. Talk to you soon.
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