COVID-19 disease is causing health-related complications that have not stopped as such and it also leads to a lot of changes in our mental health in our daily life. People reported increased anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness all over the world and it is termed Coronasomnia and the various symptoms related to it are discussed in this article.
Coronasomnia is a medical condition wherein an increased case of sleep problems are characterized at the time of this COVID-19 pandemic along with other symptoms like anxiety, depression, and stress.
As the name suggests, the symptoms of Coronasomnia are identified during the pandemic but there are also other causes like increased media usage and change in daily routine, financial stress, emotional stress, distance from loved ones, unpredictability, and other professional stress.
Similar to regular insomnia, the symptoms of Coronasomnia include:
Difficulty falling asleep and sleeping through the night.
Elevated stress levels.
Increased anxiety and depression due to unwanted negative thoughts.
Irregular sleep schedules.
Sleep deprivation symptoms such as,
Increased daytime sleepiness.
It has been said that individuals having trouble falling asleep have increased from 15% to 42% due to this pandemic and the number of people not able to maintain sleep has increased from 24% to 40%. While sleep problems are on one side, it is reported that 4 out of 10 persons also experience at least one mental health issue in this pandemic.
It is alarming to note that when compared to 2019, the number of people with anxiety has tripled and that of depression has quadrupled after this COVID disease. Also, the sleep cycle has affected many people and they are taking naps in the daytime and sleeping less during the nighttime. It is also observed that the average sleeping and waking up time has been increased by 39 minutes and 64 minutes respectively.
There are no specific groups that are said to be at risk of Coronasomnia but it has been identified in an increased manner in the following group of the population,
Front line workers such as-
Sanitary department workers, etc.,
Essential workers such as-
Water and electricity department.
Other logistics-related organizations.
Young adults who use a lot of media devices.
It has been noted that 75% of total COVID-19 patients have reported sleeping troubles as it has symptoms like coughing and wheezing which makes it difficult to rest properly.
The people of the hour are mainly the healthcare professionals who are in direct battle with this pandemic situation, and so they are the ones being most exposed to infection. This results in increased anxiety of infection, in addition, their extra efforts on work and work-related stress make them very difficult to get proper sleep and rest.
Being said that over 80% of healthcare workers reported sleep troubles when compared to 40% of the general population. Due to this disturbing sleep routine, their immunity system gets compromised, increasing the risk of getting infected.
The next major set of the population being affected by Coronasomnia is the young adults and students. Students and young adults have reported almost twice the amount of adult insomnia during this pandemic and similarly, they have pushed their sleeping time by 39 minutes which is also twice that of an adult.
The idea of lockdown and social distancing has led to restraining themselves from meeting and interacting with other fellow beings and hence have increased the state of loneliness and insecurity among this set of population. This has also taken a huge toll on mental health and growth which eventually leads to depression and anxiety.
The pandemic itself has caused a lot of changes in our day-to-day lives. Our daily commute to work and school has changed to remote working and online classes, and so adapting to these changes itself has some impacts on our mental health. Also, a lot of people lost their work and their beloved persons due to this pandemic which again is a major contribution to sleeplessness and anxiety. Other than these, some major-specific reasons are listed below.
As discussed earlier, the new normal of work from home and online classes come with a new set of stress factors like productivity and staring at electronic screens for a prolonged period of time. The fact that we are confined within a small space and not being able to interact with others physically is a stress-inducing factor. Also, when combined with parenting or working scenarios it becomes a huge stress-causing agent. The above-mentioned stress factors cause increased production of cortisol, a hormone that causes sleeplessness.
Since there is no need to commute other than acquiring essentials, our daily routine has been affected drastically and this, in turn, has its own contribution of insomnia and anxiety. Daily walking and other physical activities have also been reduced as there is no chance of getting out of our home.
Since the overall physical activity has been reduced, appetite has also taken its hit leading to change in the metabolic cycle. Stocking up foods have also increased the consumption of ready-to-eat and junk foods leading to gaining weight which again may cause sleep deprivation.
Since the social distancing and lockdown procedures have been put into play, social activities have become almost zero. Hence in order to move over time, we keep ourselves occupied with the majority of people and with digital entertainments such as social media, movies, and gaming. All these kinds of hobbies also make it difficult to maintain a proper sleep cycle.
All the electronic screens emit blue light which has an increased effect on our eye health and also our brain since the blue light is misinterpreted as sunlight by our brain and this, in turn, keeps us more focused and alert instead of relaxing and able to sleep. Also, people get to see the news for knowing the latest developments and updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic itself, and due to this, there is also an increase in the anxiety and fear of infection.
There are many things we can follow to overcome Coronasomnia by,
Improving sleep hygiene.
Following daytime and nighttime routines.
Sleep hygiene defines the habits to be followed surrounding sleep to promote better sleep. Things to be followed to improve sleep hygiene are:
Following a regular sleep schedule - Follow a proper bedtime and wake time with at least seven to eight hours of sleep.
Avoid longer sleeping time - Sleeping for 20 to 30 minutes can refresh us and boosts energy, but sleeping for more than nine to ten hours per day makes it harder to fall asleep at night.
Getting a daily dose of sunlight - Get a daily dose of sunlight every morning by spending time outside the window to wake and refresh ourselves and reset our circadian rhythms.
Make your own bedroom - Arrange the bedroom the way you like to avoid anything that reminds you of stress.
Avoid alcohol consumption - Drinking alcohol disrupts sleep patterns and makes you wake up early in the morning and also worsens snoring.
Avoid caffeine - Caffeine disrupts sleep, so take a cup of coffee at least six hours before bed, and adding more than 8 cups of coffee per day can increase the risk of anxiety and depression.
Have an early dinner - A late dinner can upset the stomach and disturbs sleep, and so eat early with sleep-promoting foods.
Following daily routines can reduce stress by providing a sense of normalcy and helps us to plan our time in a work-from-home lifestyle. Schedule the time to the following,
When to exercise.
When to begin or end work.
When to have your meals.
Plan for regular breaks.
Daytime Routine - Take an outside morning walk to refresh, re-energize, and reinforce the natural sleep and wake cycles. Also, create separation between work areas and sleep spaces, and when the area is very small, place a divider between workplace and bed. Plan not to work in the bedroom and there can be a reduced distance between the other rooms and the bedroom, but working in the other rooms can make a difference in the brain because bringing work-related objects into the bedroom can cause stress.
Night Time Routine - Follow a bedtime routine and perform the same activities every night which signals the brain to fall asleep. Turn down the lights and stop using electronics at least 1 hour before bed. Instead, listen to music, stay calm, and meditate to make yourself relaxed.
In order to avoid sleep disturbances, manage stress by following regular exercise, writing your worries, and taking a break from the news.
Follow Regular Exercise - Exercise daily contributes to relieving stress and anxiety and improves sleep. Also, finish exercise at least 1 hour before bed.
Write Your Worries - If your mind is overloaded with stress write down everything that is stressing you out because putting pen to paper helps to dispose of the thoughts, also the unwanted thoughts and negative feelings, thus relieving anxiety. Schedule this a few hours before bed to avoid these thoughts disturbing the sleep.
Taking a Break From the News - Do not hear any stressful information or do not take it to your mind, avoid over-watching the news or social media as it can create anxiety. In addition, these emit blue light and it interferes with sleep at night.
All these uncertain happenings may be tough right now, but they will be better soon. For some people getting vaccinated also increases stress, until then, try to follow the above-mentioned tips to improve sleep. Speak to the doctor if there are any sleep disturbances and they will recommend cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which is a proven treatment for insomnia. As we are currently social distancing, following CBT-I via telemedicine is as effective as in person.
Last reviewed at:
05 Jun 2021 - 6 min read
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