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How has Covid-19 affected Americans’ sleep what can dentists do to help?

Posted on November 11th, 2020

The last few months of shutdowns and virtual work have been hard for most Americans, but there has to be a silver lining, right? Shouldn’t people at least be getting more sleep since they’re out of the office and classrooms and have dramatically shortened their commutes?

Sadly, new studies suggest that rather than improving Americans’ sleep habits, quarantine has made them worse. A study by Sleep Standards found that 98% of Americans have developed new sleep problems since the beginning of the lockdowns on March 13, 2020.  

Meanwhile, Neurology Today recently reported on the phenomenon known as “Covidsomnia.”  The lack of a schedule, reduced sunlight, and more screens at bedtime that have come with the lockdowns have led to more Americans being diagnosed with chronic insomnia. There has been an increase in prescriptions for sleep aids, and people working from home have been hit especially hard.  

The neurologists interviewed in the report highlighted good sleep hygiene as the most important thing Americans can do to protect their sleep health while working or schooling from home during Covid-19.

So what can your dental office do to help your patients improve their sleep?

While many dental offices have reopened, many medical offices are still seeing patients through telehealth. That means you may be the only medical provider who will lay eyes on your patients in the next 6 months. The hands-on nature of dentistry means that you’re the first provider many patients will see as they emerge from isolation.

At every appointment, screen your patients for sleep problems. Ask about how they’re sleeping, whether they practice good sleep hygiene and whether they have symptoms of poor sleeping, like headaches upon waking, low energy, or daytime sleepiness.  With the weight gain and lack of activity that many people have experienced during the pandemic, even patients who didn’t have conditions like OSA in the past may have it now.

Be proactive about addressing your patients’ sleep needs. Many adults go years without a visit to their GP but see their dentist twice a year. As the nation reopens, dentists are in a unique position to protect the health of their patients.

If you haven’t added sleep apnea screenings and treatments to your dental practice, Dr. Dassani offers a Sleep Mastery Bootcamp that will give you the tools you need to help your patients improve their sleep and overall health.

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website: MeghnaDassani.com

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