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Trouble sleeping? Having strange dreams? WNY sleep expert says you're not alone

Stress and worries during the coronavirus pandemic are affecting a lot of peoples' sleep patterns and dreams.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Are you having trouble falling or staying asleep? Once you're finally asleep are you experiencing bizarre, vivid, or intense dreams?

All of this could be another result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Real life stresses and worries are infiltrating our dreams, says Dr. Eric Ten Brock of the Jacobs School of Medicine.

"You tend to think about those stress factors when you're awake and dream about them at night. You only remember your dreams if you wake up from REM sleep. That's when you do your dreaming," said Dr. Ten Brock.

Those same stress factors are also affecting our sleep patterns. The fact that our normal, daily routines have been throw off doesn't help either.

Ten Brock adds that when our sleep is fragmented and we wake up in different cycles, it affects the restorative properties of sleep. So even though you may be logging a lot of hours of sleep, you don't feel well rested.

He said our bodies crave repetition. 

"It wants stability. It wants you to go to bed at a certain time and wake up at a certain time," Ten Brock said.

He suggests some tips to fall asleep easier/faster and get a better night's sleep:

  • Steer clear of long naps during the day
  • Stay away from alcohol several hours before bedtime
  • Avoid a lot of screen time close to bed
  • Write down a worry list right before bed to help ease your mind

For people still having trouble falling asleep, Ten Brock said don't lie in bed tossing and turning. Instead, get up and do something boring or monotonous to try and make yourself tired.

When it comes to trouble sleeping, he said for many people it's a case of "this too shall pass," but, if you have symptoms of depression or isolation, seek medical attention.

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