“Coronasomnia:” Why we’re losing sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Researchers are pointing out another problem made worse during the COVID-19 health crisis. They’ve even coined a term for the widespread sleep deprivation many have been experiencing over the past year — “Coronasomnia.”

A study of more than 54,000 participants from 13 different countries found 40 percent experienced more sleep problems during the pandemic. That’s up from one-third of Americans reporting years of poor sleep prior to the virus.

“The pandemic threw everything off,” said Chris Jones. “You don’t know what day it is, what time it is, how much you should be spending on this or that.”

Jones had just ordered four shots of espresso from a coffee shop in the King Lincoln district when he talked about the toll COVID-19 had taken on his sleep habits and subsequent mental health.

“We’re in person, we’re not in person, we’re hybrid basically,” he said of his current situation. “Do I even get back to regular life [now]? That’s stressful.”

Central Ohio family physician Dr. Anup Kanodia explained that the stress, disrupted routines, and unpredictability of a global pandemic is to blame for Coronasomnia, an uptick in anxiety and depression.

“All the things that we’ve been doing have just been upended… normal routines, in terms of getting out of the house, getting sunlight, our eating, our interaction with people, our exercise. Stress has gone up,” he said.

He explained poor sleep is especially prevalent in frontline workers, women, and people of color. Up to 75 percent of COVID-19 patients reported trouble sleeping, likely from coughing, fever, and other symptoms.

“That’s a huge problem because that has a lot of side effects for our life if we’re not getting good sleep,” Dr. Kanodia said. “When we’re not in a good state or mood, that affects our sleep. And then it becomes a vicious cycle.”

He explained the best way to get better sleep is to relieve stress, establish a daily routine and improve your sleep hygiene.

“Sleep is the cheapest thing we can do, which is free, and it makes a huge impact,” he said.

Relieve Stress:

  • Exercise regularly (limit exercise one hour before bedtime)
  • Clear your mind through meditation, yoga, or journaling
  • ”Sleep Writing” (write down anxious thoughts before or during sleep)

Establish a Routine:

  • Set clear times for work, meals, and sleep
  • Consistently go to bed and wake up around the same time daily
  • Follow the same routine to unwind before bed

Improve Sleep Hygiene:

  • Stick to your sleep schedule
  • Avoid long naps
  • Minimize alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • Limit food and drinks several hours before bed
  • Clear your bedroom of distractions and stressors, like work papers and clutter
  • Spend time outdoors daily

You can read more about Coronasomnia and find tips by
clicking here.

You can also learn more during a free webinar hosted by Dr. Kanodia and osteopathic pediatrician Dr. Ali Carine on May 26th at 5pm. Click here for details.

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