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Covid-somnia playing with sleep cycles | India News

NEW DELHI: For the past six months, the 39-year-old Sreyashi has tried to walk up and down his terrace at midnight to tire himself, had a drink or two to calm his nerves, and even selected a playlist of guided videos from Sleep hypnosis to restore your circadian rhythm.
Yet every night, she feels uneasy about everything from the depressing state of escalating Covid cases to the pitiful shape of her love life. Even since the pandemic broke out, all Sreyashi has wanted is a good night’s sleep. “My routine used to be amazing. I went to bed at 12 in the morning and got up at 7 in the morning because I had to go to work. Now, it’s like my mind can’t focus on just one thing. Sometimes I’m up until 4 in the morning and then I have to open my eyes to wake up somehow, ”says Sreyashi, a corporate attorney for Santacruz.
The pandemic-induced stay-at-home order has thrown people’s schedules out the window, and along with that, a good night’s sleep, creating a massive new population of chronic insomniacs. ‘Covid-somnia’ is what doctors and researchers specializing in sleep disorders call this increase in interrupted or reduced sleep associated with Covid-19.
“There has been an increase in sleep disorders in the Covid era, ranging from insomnia, which is lack of sleep, to hypersomnia, which is excessive sleepiness. Our biological clock is governed by a day and night cycle and people follow social signals to go to work, study, perform physical activities that have been interrupted by an unpredictable virus, as well as by the work of the home culture “, he explains Dr. JC Suri. Pulmonologist at Fortis Hospital, Delhi and founder and president of the Indian Sleep Disorders Association. “We are witnessing a 15% increase in complaints of sleep disorders now. In 40% of cases, the underlying cause is acute anxiety and stress derived from a morbid fright of the disease, social isolation, financial insecurities, physical inactivity and constant exposure to breaking news, ”he adds.
While the prevalence of Covid-somnia is reported in all age groups, adolescents and young adults working between the ages of 25 and 45 may have been the most affected. “The elderly already had a fairly relaxed schedule. But students and young adults don’t have a set routine to adhere to and are hooked on their devices. Many have reported logging into classes or online meetings and then falling asleep midway through, ”explains Dr. Jayalakshmi TK, Head of the Sleep Laboratory at Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.
It also has other effects. “The blockage delayed the patient’s sleep time until 1.30 am, interrupting his feeding cycle and leading to gastroesophageal reflux disease. Another patient, despite taking various sleeping medications, was unable to fall asleep and developed palpitations due to anxiety, ”says Dr. Jayalakshmi.
Somnologists at the International Institute of Sleep Sciences (IISS) in Thane conducted a randomized study of 150 people in March. Nushafreen Irani, IISS research coordinator, says that between 25 and 30% suffered from non-restorative sleep, which does not feel fresh even after 8 hours of sleep. “This must have increased to 50% of what we have observed. Patients who already had sleep problems but were monitoring them say that now it is unbearable, ”says Irani.
Another factor that induces insomnia is the increasing use of devices. “The constant ringing or vibrating of the phone keeps me on the edge, making it harder to fall asleep,” says 38-year-old Ashok Menon, whose room that was once a sanctuary without electronic devices now serves as a makeshift office. . “This is a Pavlovian response once the bed begins to be associated with work and worry rather than a place to rest and sleep,” says Irani.
An hour of screen-free time before bed could help the transition to restful sleep. “Unfortunately, people try to relax by watching television or scrolling on their phones, which is a counterproductive exercise. The blue LED light from the screens inhibits the release of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep, and tricks the brain into believing it is daylight, ”says Dr. Rajesh Parikh, a neuropsychiatrist at Jaslok Hospital and Research Center, who has treated more than 50 patients with sleep disorders in the past. few weeks. “However, most of them came to me for anxiety and depression, not primarily for sleep disorders,” he adds, pointing to the fact that most people with sleep problems rarely seek medical advice.
“When lack of sleep begins to affect daytime functioning to the point where you feel fatigued, unable to concentrate, and have severe mood swings, it’s time to seek medical help,” warns Dr. Suri, who installed the first sleep laboratory in the country at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi in 1991.
However, there has only been mild interest in insomnia, not a medical specialty in India, yet. “You can consult neurologists, pulmonologists and psychiatrists, but certainly not your neighborhood chemist!” Close Dr. Parikh’s session.

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