Why Are We So Tired This Year?

Anna Vannoy, Staff Writer

I believe that most people can agree that this year hasn’t been easy. From the pandemic to racial protests and the ever-widening political division. I for one have been feeling exhausted for the majority of this year. Research shows that I’m not alone. 

According to Courtney Bancroft, who is a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist in New York City, there is a myriad of reasons why people might be feeling more tired than they would normally. 

“The short answer is it varies, right?” she said. “In general, our daily lives are completely different. For a lot of people, there’s no clear differentiation of the days, the week, the hours of the day, where we work, where we sleep. Social activities, work, family, and chores are all within the same four walls, which can really impact somebody’s sense of schedule, and when our schedule is thrown off, it can impact our circadian clock.”

Many of my peers have expressed how their sleep schedules have drastically changed during our virtual learning experience. We don’t have anywhere to be, so we have started going to bed later, then sleeping until right before our virtual first period. 

We haven’t been getting as much exercise this year either. Spring high school sports were cancelled very early in the season due to COVID- 19, and only a select few of fall sports are happening. Exercise is obviously physically demanding, which can tire you out. It is also a great way to relieve stress. If we don’t get exercise, we are less tired and more stressed when bedtime comes, making sleep challenging and fatigue inevitable. 

More screen time can also have an impact on our sleep. The world has gone virtual, and that changes how we are able to sleep. Any technology emitting blue light, especially later in the day, can affect how much sleep people get and alter the quality of that sleep. 

Stress is another factor leading to our tiredness. Social distancing, staying at home, and the country’s general turmoil have been proven to weigh on our minds, preventing us from drifting off. 

So, is there anything we can do to try to combat the exhaustion? Yes, there is! Experts advise creating a regular schedule, so it’s easier to fall asleep and wake up at a reasonable time. Also, try to create different spaces for different activities. For example, avoid studying from your bed if you can.

“Probably what helps the most is to wake up at the same time daily, which is really hard to do,” said Eleanor McGlinchey, a professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. “As best as you can, stay consistent with that time. It’ll mean that all of your circadian rhythms and sleep rhythms will align with that wake-up time, so you’re actually feeling sleepy at, say, 11:00 p.m. as opposed to 2:00 a.m.”

McGlinchey also advised trying to keep naps to a minimum, or at least avoid taking them late in the day. 

Like I said, this hasn’t been an easy year. There are still more challenges to come. Hopefully, we can now face them slightly more well- rested.