As if the novel coronavirus has not already wrought devastation aplenty on the world, physicians and researchers are seeing signs it is doing deep damage to people’s sleep.
“Coronasomnia,” as some experts now call it, could prove to have profound public-health ramifications — creating a massive new population of chronic insomniacs grappling with declines in productivity, shorter fuses and increased risks of hypertension, depression and other health problems.
It’s easy to see why people can’t sleep, experts say. The pandemic has heightened stress and upset routines.
Bank accounts are strained and children are home. Days lack rhythm and social interaction. The bedroom, which sleep experts say should be an electronics-free sanctuary, also now serves for many as a makeshift office. The news is gripping, bad and breaking around the clock in blue light that discourages shut-eye. The future is uncertain, the end of the crisis indiscernible.
“Patients who used to have insomnia, patients who used to have difficulty falling asleep because of anxiety, are having more problems. Patients who were having nightmares have more nightmares,” said Alon Avidan, a neurologist who directs the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. “With covid-19, we recognize that there is now an epidemic of sleep problems.”