This pandemic has also led to rising cases of insomnia due to a variety of reasons, in turn, leading to the coining of the term ‘coronasomnia’. According to Dr Anamika Rathore, consultant ENT/endoscopic sinus and sleep apnea surgeon, Bhatia Hospital Mumbai, some of the factors are:
Stress: Fear of getting infected, spreading infection, watching too much news, feeling helpless, unable to meet covid-infected family members etc.
Change in daily routine: Lack of physical activity, online work, excess work at home with no breaks and outings, sometimes excessive daytime sleeping leading to insomnia, increased screen time
Financial stress: Loss of jobs, less earning, career insecurity, rising expenditures and no income
Apart from these, the disease itself may be causing insomnia “due to various symptoms like shortness of breath, body aches, anxiety, depression, psychosis, nightmares, feeling of doom”. “Fever and lack of taste might keep a person awake,” mentioned Dr Rathore.
Overall lack of sleep reduces the immunity levels, enhances the inflammation leading to more symptoms and insomnia, making it a vicious cycle, she added.
Another major factor contributing to this is self-isolation and long periods of quarantine and not being able to talk to family members or friends in person. Staying connected can prevent it to a large extent.
Why is insomnia a cause for concern?
Insomnia not only causes fatigue and sleep deprivation, but it also makes one prone to hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. These, along with low immunity induced by lack of sleep make one more susceptible to covid-19. This can lead to more anxiety and stress.
What can be done?
“The most basic advice here is to stay away from news and too many online updates. Concentrate more on recovered patients, follow a daily routine with exercises and a healthy diet and watch one’s sleep schedule by avoiding excess daytime sleep. Reduce screen time and nurture some hobbies like music, art, reading etc. Eat healthy,” she said.
Once insomnia sets in, there’s an added stress of inability to sleep and one anticipates disrupted, fragmented sleep, thereby further aggravating the situation. “To combat it, if medications are taken, they alter normal sleep cycle and there is not much relief,” said Dr Rathore.
“Most of these can be prevented by observing and following sleep hygiene, less screen time, more physical activity, relaxation techniques, avoiding daytime naps, reducing alcohol intake/smoking, avoiding negative news and maintaining a positive attitude,” said Dr Rathore.
Finally, one should remember that people are trying their best to combat this situation and it’s wisely said, “this too shall pass.”