Key Takeaways

  • Health professionals are seeing a rise in what some are calling “COVID-somnia.”

  • Getting restorative sleep every night is vital for older adults.

  • With National Sleep Awareness Week coming up, find out how establishing sleep-friendly daytime and nighttime routines can help.

Do you have COVID-somnia? If you do, you’re not alone.

Sleep researchers and health professionals have reported a rise in COVID-related sleep issues.1 Increased fears and anxieties certainly top the list of reasons why our sleeping patterns have changed, but other important factors include staying indoors more than usual (and thus interfering with our circadian rhythms), getting less exercise, and being more isolated from friends and family. But sleep is a critical component of our overall health and getting a good night’s sleep—even in stressful times—is more important than ever.

Why is sleep so important?

Sleep has long been known to have restorative powers and boost the immune system. Sleep helps keep us healthier, stronger, and more alert while helping the body to repair cell and organ damage that occurs during the day. On the flip side, when we do not sleep well, we may suffer from depression and memory problems. We are also likely to experience nighttime falls, increased sensitivity to pain, and the need to use more prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. Finally, lack of sleep may contribute to health problems including a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems, and breast cancer in women.2

Sleep changes as we age

There’s a common belief that we need less sleep as we age. That’s not true. Our sleep needs are consistent throughout adulthood. What changes are our sleep patterns, making it likely that we’ll have a more difficult time falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing that really good deep sleep.

How much sleep do you need?

Most of us need 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night. However, the number of hours you are asleep is not as important as how you feel following a good night’s sleep. You may function well on fewer hours of sleep or may need more hours to feel well rested.

Tips for getting restorative sleep every night

More fragmented sleep is already typical for us as we get older. Add to that the increased uncertainty and stress brought on by the pandemic and it’s easy to see why COVID-somnia is a reality. The good news is that some of the most common barriers to a good night’s sleep are due to habits built over a lifetime. And these habits are within our control to change. The following table lists steps you can take to establish a new sleep routine to help reduce or eliminate sleep problems, even in a time of increasing stress and uncertainty.

Dim (Smaller Sun) with solid fill Daytime Habits for Better Sleep

Moon and stars with solid fill Nighttime Habits for Better Sleep

Exercise regularly.

Turn devices off: radio, TV, phone, etc.

Talk about your worries with a friend or family member.

Reduce artificial light as much as possible.

Stay engaged socially.

Limit noise and heat in your bedroom.

Get sunlight.

Keep a regular bedtime routine.

Meditate 10 minutes/day.

Do not read from a backlit device.

Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine especially in the afternoon and early evening.

Avoid big meals and late-night snacks before bedtime.

We spend one-third of our lives sleeping so it’s vitally important—especially now—to take proactive steps toward improving our sleep habits. That way, we can live the other two-thirds of our lives in the most energetic, healthy, and stress-free manner possible.


1. “Sleep Neurologists Call It ‘COVID-Somnia’—Increased Sleep Disturbances Linked to the Pandemic”. Found on the internet at

2. Smith, Melinda et al., “Sleep Tips for Older Adults”. Found on the internet at