Covid-19, Mental Health, and Sleep

The COVID-19 pandemic (like other stressful events) can have a negative impact on mental health and the ability to achieve consistent healthy sleep.

What the research has shown?
Because COVID-19 has recently emerged, long-term and wide-ranging studies on the virus are not plentiful; however, polling and survey studies have shown people reporting increased trouble sleeping and increases in anxiety, depression and suicide ideation during the pandemic. Data has shown that it is taking longer people longer to fall asleep than normal, and that while people may be sleeping longer (more time) in some cases, the quality of sleep they are getting is worse with, which can leave the individual feeling groggy after waking, instead of refreshed.

Consistently poor sleep quality can have a negative impact on emotional health and can contribute to increased depression and anxiety, as well as lead to greater risk for many diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. More information on the importance of healthy sleep and negative impact of poor sleep can be found on our Healthy Sleep Education page.

What can you do to help maintain healthy sleep and mental health during this time?

Feeling emotional during stressful times is normal, and it is important to take care of your mental health during these times. If you have a pre-existing sleep or mental health disorder, it is important to monitor your disorder and symptoms and speak with your healthcare provider regarding new or worsening symptoms.
Maintain your normal, personal schedule and habits as much as possible while adhering to safety protocols. This may including:
  • Ensuring you have a healthy, well-balanced diet, get regular exercise, and get the proper amount of sleep (at least 7 hours per night).
  • Continue to do activities that your enjoy and that reduce stress.
  • Maintain relationships with those you are close to, even if you cannot see them in person.  Talk to people on the phone, or video chat if possible, to share your concerns and feelings, and help to lessen or eliminate feelings of isolation.
  • Stay informed through reliable sources, such as CDC for information regarding the virus or your state/local government for requirements in your area, but limit your time spent on other sources so as to not over stress yourself.

Improving sleep quality and consistency can help to cope during stressful times (such as during the current COVID-19 pandemic). Follow these sleep hygiene tips to help maintain healthy sleep:
  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends and holidays.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing; keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat large meals right before bed; eat a light snack if hungry.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime and reduce fluid intake before bed.
  • If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity (no electronics/screens), and then try again.

COVID symptoms
Find a list of COVID-19 symptoms on our COVID-19 Information page.

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?
Strategies to protect yourself and others from the virus are included on our COVID-19 Information page.


CDC Resources:
Mental Health Resources