Coronavirus making you sleepless? Some tips to battle ‘coronasomnia’


For the past one year, the coronavirus pandemic has been passionately discussed around the world, in news, on social media, among friends and family, etc. So much so that it has led some people into feeling anxious and worried, even hopeless about the future. This hopelessness has seeped into their regular life, making it difficult for them to function and even sleep at night!

This is coronasomnia, and in this article, we discuss all about it.

Dr Anshu Punjabi, consultant pulmonologist and sleep medicine expert at Fortis Hospital, Mulund says that this condition is a heightened risk of insomnia, which causes people to wake up in panic during the early morning hours. “While experts call it ‘coronasomnia’ — a condition caused by pandemic-induced stress — please note, it is not the virus that is causing it, but the circumstances,” says the doctor.

In March 2020, the International Institute of Sleep Sciences (IISS) in Mumbai conducted a randomized study of 150 people. The research reported 25-30 per cent were suffering from non-restorative sleep patterns. Another study conducted in the month of May 2020 by top psychiatrists and neurologists in the country revealed that COVID-19 lockdown was associated with changes in sleep schedule and in the quantity and quality of night-time sleep.

“These changes are mainly associated with elevated rates of emotional symptoms.”

So how does stress impair sleep?

With everything that is going on right now, people are more vulnerable. “When you lose sleep, your emotions can feel more intense. Your ability to regulate emotions can also become diminished, so existing stressors become more stressful, and the ability to calm down becomes more impaired,” explains Dr Punjabi.

Some factors currently affecting people are:

* Worry about loss of job
* Stress about financial instability
* Fear of the virus
* Limited or no work-life balance
* Constant worry of improving immunity and health
* Disturbed sleep schedules

The solution

The doctor suggests some ways with which to cope with coronasomnia:

1. Having a routine: Make sure you have a regular schedule for work, meals, exercise and sleep. Wake up at the same time every morning to help stabilise your circadian rhythm. Even if you work from home, get showered and dressed.

2. Having a wind-down time: Allocate half-an-hour before bed as wind-down time. Listen to soft music if that helps calm your mind. Keep the lighting dim. Engage in a non-stimulating activity, like listening to music, doing crossword puzzles, or reading a book. Deep breathing exercises are great. Change bed linen once a week.

3. Keeping mobile phone, laptop away: There is evidence that blue light from electronics can impact your circadian rhythm, keeping you wide awake when you’re supposed to be feeling tired. Stay away from mobile phones and laptops. Avoid net surfing just before bedtime.

4. No caffeine before bed: Caffeine from tea and coffee can stay in the body for up to eight hours. Many people think green tea helps, but that’s not true. Alcohol does the same thing to your body.

5. Having a gap between meals and sleep time: It is good to have a gap between meals and sleep time. It allows your body to digest the food before you sleep.

6. Don’t look at the clock: Set an alarm and then turn the clock and sleep. Watching the minutes go by can become an additional stressor.

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