The pandemic has worsened insomnia experienced by adults in the US. It is a disturbance that adds to the difficulties the virus has wrought in our lives. We know that sleep is vital to our emotional and physical health. Yet, the CDC estimates that one-third of all US adults lack sufficient sleep during normal, not pandemic, times.
How should we deal with this challenging sleep deprivation that leads to sleep debt? We know that sleep debt carries with it a heavy price for us to pay. The virus, too, gives us no weekend reprieve where we may try to catch up on lost sleep.
Unfortunately, we can’t catch up on lost sleep, and the debt keeps piling up. So don’t fool yourself into believing that sleeping in is the answer for you. With the pandemic’s effect on our daily lives, the uncertainty, the fracturing of norms and normal routines, the debt is even worse.
Sleep medicine, beginning with the work of Dr. Nathaniel Kleitman, firmly established the scientific need for sleep and provided guidelines for obtaining adequate sleep. For typical adults, the number of hours of sleep each day is around six to eight hours. Babies and teens require more sleep, but, in the case of teens, there are major differences in sleep/wake cycles that may affect their ability in school.
Adults, however, are increasingly aware their current insomnia is not what they might usually experience due to work or family demands. This time of the pandemic with its periods of quarantine and shutdowns may require something additional to help us get to sleep.
Some will turn to alcohol, an abysmal choice for the sleeping brain. Others may try sleeping pills (hypnotics or soporifics), another poor choice because they can cause insomnia and have alarming side effects if used chronically.
Professional and legal articles have indicated memory impairment, sometimes for an entire day, and even life-threatening behaviors experienced while using sleeping pills for more than a few days. A famous Hollywood actor attributed a specific sleeping pill to finding himself in his car dangling at the edge of a cliff one night. He swore off them forever.
Alternatives to Pills
Cuddling with pets or special body-length pillows may not work for everyone. Dog ownership has been found in some studies to assist sleep induction, but only if the animal sleeps in the room, not in the bed, according to one study. Another study found that pets in the room or the bed help lessen stress or anxiety and may be helpful as sleep companions. If you don’t want a pet or can’t have one where you live, not to worry, there are additional aids available.
The choices being offered for help with insomnia are increasing as the need grows. If there is a need, there will be opportunities. One area that is sparking increasing interest is audio bedtime stories for adults. And it’s a worldwide phenomenon. My online library lists 77 adult bedtime audiobooks — no paucity of offerings there.
Remember one thing, however. Not everyone views “bedtime stories for adults” as being simple and restful stories to lull you to sleep. Some interpret the genre with a Madonna twist that has stories a bit too “adult” for getting to sleep.
I happened across this while searching the holdings at a local online library, and there it was, Madonna. Known for many things but not sleep, Ms. Ciccone has found a place in this new adult sphere.
The titles of the stories are self-explanatory, and I won’t repeat them here. They are available for those who want a bit more than sleep. Other audio stories are aimed at guided meditation or other relaxation techniques to facilitate sleep for anyone with insomnia.
The borrowing for adult audio bedtime stories has been cut down to only seven days, and I wonder why. You usually can hang on to books or stories for almost a month. Hmmm. The industrious could, I suppose, record the books for personal repeated use once the seven days run out.
But, in addition to borrowing those audio adult bedtime stories from libraries, you can subscribe to an app. Apps are the perfect solution, aren’t they?
What Makes Bedtime Stories Helpful?
One thing where professionals in healthcare agree is that when we try to go to sleep, we experience something called sleep disturbance. What is it? It’s that knawing, mind-blowing constant thinking about what happened during the day and what will happen next year or forever. It never stops, and therein lies the magic of adult bedtime stories; distraction.
The stories take you on a journey of discovery, calm exploration or mental magic into worlds created for you by soothing voices selected for the task. Yes, you can have Matthew McConaughey if you wish.
I would suspect that many voice-over actors will be getting into the business as soon as their agents realize their potential. And the financial gain for authors is incredible, also. We’re not going to get over insomnia after the pandemic stop raging.
The task of finding your library choices or the apps for which you want a subscription I leave to you. I don’t want to seem like I’m pitching for any of them. You find what suits you best and then give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.