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How Has Covid-19 affected American Sleep, and What Can Dentists Do to Help?

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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 American sleep habits, quarantine has actually 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 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 especially hard hit.  

The neurologists interviewed highlighted good sleep hygiene as the most important thing that 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 that 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 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 you twice a year.   As the nation reopens, you're in a unique position to protect the health of your 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 their overall health.