Even before the pandemic, sleep deprivation was already a huge problem. Indeed, more than one-third of the American population hasn’t had enough sleep for years. And, unfortunately, the situation became even worse as a result of the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19. The truth is, 40% of people reported experiencing sleep issues during the coronavirus pandemic, which has become medically referred to as coronasomnia.
As you can notice, coronasomnia is a portmanteau of coronavirus and insomnia. However, they aren’t the same because although insomnia is connected to depression and anxiety, coronasomnia is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though some symptoms of coronasomnia overlap with insomnia symptoms, common symptoms include:
- Finding it hard to fall and stay asleep, as is the case with insomnia
- Frequent intrusive thoughts
- Increased anxiety, depression, and stress levels
- Irregular sleep schedules
- Increased daytime fatigue, poor concentration, and bad mood, as with sleep deprivation
Furthermore, many studies have shown increased rates of both mental health disorders and insomnia. Namely, only 24% of people had sleep maintenance insomnia before the pandemic, whereas 40% of people suffer from the same issue now, during the pandemic. Similarly, the prevalence of sleep-onset insomnia increased from 15% to 42%. In general, sleep experts believe that the number of people suffering from any type of insomnia has jumped by almost 40% compared to the pre-pandemic levels.
Also, the pandemic has had a huge effect on people’s sleep habits. In other words, people tend to sleep less at night and nap more during the day as they are spending more time at home. So, they are delaying both their bedtimes and wake times by approximately 39 to 64 minutes, respectively, which negatively affects sleep quality.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has influenced every aspect of people’s lives, it’s no wonder that people are experiencing sleep issues. The following is a list of the most frequent causes of coronasomnia:
Major stressful events, like a worldwide pandemic, result in quite pronounced sleep issues that may last for months and even a couple of years. After such events, people experience an increase in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a decrease in slow-wave sleep, and an increase in sleep interruptions. This is because stress stimulates cortisol production which is the hormone that helps the body respond to stress but also disrupts melatonin production which is the sleep hormone and helps the body prepare for sleep.
As there are social distancing guidelines and many people are working remotely, there’s a significant loss of daily routine. People have given up many normal parts of life like going shopping, doing hobbies, attending celebrations, etc. and now feel socially isolated. This takes a toll on people’s mental health and negatively affects their circadian rhythms. And, if the circadian rhythm gets disrupted, sleep quality reduces and many biological functions like appetite, digestion, immune response, etc. get affected.
The Bottom Line
Increased stress levels and loss of daily routine become a self-fulfilling cycle that leads to many sleep issues. Therefore, try to think positively and stick to some kind of a daily routine. If you still experience symptoms of insomnia, or coronasomnia, ensure you seek professional help from a sleep expert.