As the pandemic has developed, studies on the effects that it and Covid 19 have had on the sleep of human beings are increasingly frequent. These show that people are suffering a greater number of sleep disturbances and a lower quality of sensation of restful sleep when waking up. Likewise, the increase in cases of insomnia and sleep interruption in sleepers are associated with the social and medical effects of the pandemic.
Researchers have separated the consequences of the coronavirus on sleep into two large groups: the effects on sleep periods due to the pandemic in labor, economic and social terms, and the effects of Covid 19 at a medical level in the body of infected and recovered people.
Before the coronavirus pandemic broke out and began to spread around the world, the figures for disturbances and interruptions of sleep or insomnia reached average levels of 30% in different countries, during the pandemic these numbers have increased.
According to the researchers, the increase in these sleep disorders has a direct and generalized relationship with the devastation left by the pandemic worldwide. The first symptom associated with these disorders was the increase in stress cases that led to the onset of the pandemic. The fear of contagion, added to the uncertainty of what could happen in the first months of the virus’s expansion at a social and economic level, unleashed in people a feeling of being stripped of the bases on which they sustained their life projects, which led to in which the cases of insomnia and sleep disturbances began to increase over the figures that the researchers already had.
Later, over the months, a new normality in the pandemic was settling in the population. Then new life routines, daily habits and transformations in the way of working appeared, such as working from home, which in turn has had strong effects on the quality of sleep in human beings. These abrupt changes in people’s daily lives bring with them physical disorders that lead to a loss of sleep quality. Constantly living at home changed eating habits and decreased physical activity, two of the main factors that allow us to achieve a greater sense of rest and deeper and more restful sleep. In the same way, exposure to screen light increased during the day and at night as a result of working from home, one of the main causes of difficulty in getting to sleep.
In addition to this, during the pandemic the cases of depression and stress have increased as a result of the strict confinement measures in the different countries. Social isolation and disconnection from the individual and public dimension at the physical level are one of the main causes of these medical conditions, which are directly associated with insomnia cases in the majority of the population studied. In fact, the medical literature has coined the terms Covidsomnia and Coronasomnia (Covidsomnia or Coronasomnia in Spanish), to refer to this new global health problem.
Economic uncertainty, social isolation, and confinement in a single physical space, where all human activities now converge and develop: work, family, and social life, are currently the biggest cause of our problems at the moment. about sleeping. Consequently, all the social transformations that the pandemic has brought to humanity are directly influencing the quality of people’s sleep.
However, we must strive to achieve a restful, full and deep sleep, as this will greatly increase the potential of our immune system in its response to diseases and infections, including the spread of Covid 19.
Sleep in patients infected by Covid 19
Although there is a lack of research in this regard, it has been possible to establish a relationship between Covid 19 and the effects and disturbances of sleep in infected people. Some of them state that these disturbances persist for a few weeks after the recovery from the contagion.
Apparently, in infected patients, the virus generates a new form of mechanisms that affect the quality of sleep. Basically, a release of cytokines is unleashed that generate an inflammatory state in different tissues of the body, which disturbs the phases of sleep, generates longer periods of insomnia and produces the sensation of non-restorative sleep when waking up.
On the other hand, patients with strong affectations due to the contagion of Covid 19, who must be hospitalized in medical care centers or intensive care units, suffer other sleep disorders added to the release of inflammatory cytokines. These have to do directly with the sensation of confusion that is generated in the human organism and in the biological clock as a consequence of irregular sleep routines in hospitals, where patients must undergo continuous medical check-ups during the night, which that does not allow the phases of sleep to occur naturally.
Better sleep during the pandemic
It is extremely important to try to maintain our temporary sleep routines while the pandemic continues to develop, trying to achieve 8 hours of restful sleep at specific times. For this, do not forget to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet, replace physical activity routines in the street with exercise at home, get away from exposure to screens a few hours before going to sleep, have our rest space to achieve a restful sleep: a pleasant bed, absence of external light, etc. Always remember that the lack of full and restful sleep has a direct impact on the way the immune system responds to disease.