Insomnia Becomes Side Effect of COVID-19 Epidemic

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Sleep is an essential part of both physical and mental health. Too much or too little sleep is linked to a multitude of problems, such as insomnia, depression, heart problems, etc. In the online forum for Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, featured speaker Donn Posner discusses how the interruption of daily routines creates more stress that can rob one of sleep and how the current situation is "the perfect storm for sleep problems.

In normal times, around 30-35% of the population experiences acute, short-term, insomnia. In a study performed by National Initiative for Tracking and Evaluating Sleeplessness (NITES) at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that 72% of cases resolve themselves, but 6.8% develop full-blown chronic insomnia

“The actions that we’re taking to protect ourselves can not only precipitate problems with sleep, but lead to chronic problems with sleep,” Posner said.

If people continue to experience sleep insomnia, they increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and can increase the chances of Alzheimer's. If experienced for more than two to four weeks, insomnia can also cause depression.

To help decrease the risks of insomnia, Posner recommends simple behavioral changes. Avoid naps, even if you lost sleep. Try to avoid sleeping in on weekends or after nights of tossing and turning. Find a consistent pattern to the day and night, even if it is different from the one you are used to having, and try to avoid forcing yourself to sleep. 

“If you can’t sleep do not try to force it. Good sleepers put no effort into sleep whatsoever.” — Donn Posner

To read more of Posner's lecture, click here.

If you continue to see persistent issues concerning insomnia, consider speaking to your local sleep specialist or locating your nearest sleep center.

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