Surge in reports of Covid-somnia with nearly half losing sleep during pandemic

Millions across the world have reported a rise in what has been dubbed "Covid-somnia" after struggling to sleep during the outbreak of the virus.

A survey of 2,006 adults found that 50% experienced sleeping during the pandemic, and among those who had sleep disturbances, the most common complaint was difficulty falling asleep of staying asleep, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"The stress and isolation of the pandemic, the reduction in physical activity, none of those are good for sleep," Daniel J. Buysse, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, recently told the Wall Street Journal.

Adults should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep at night, according to sleep experts. But the pandemic has proved this to be difficult.

“Two things are important, figuring out how to fall asleep, and once you fall asleep, making sure that you can sleep through the night, and that the quality of your sleep is adequate," says Dr. Elie G. Aoun, addiction and forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University

One of the main reasons many people have difficulty falling asleep is "anticipatory anxiety," where a person wants to go to sleep, but starts worrying if they will actually get to sleep and can’t go to bed, he told Fox News.

It’s not easy to deal with this problem, Aoun admitted, "For example, try not to think about a white bear for the next 60 seconds. You can't."

In order to remedy this, Aoun suggests: “One strategy that I found effective with my patients is to recommend that they stay in bed, close their eyes and focus on staying awake. By shifting their thoughts to staying awake, they are distracting their mind from thinking about the need to fall asleep. This allows their bodies to take over and do what the body wants to do, fall asleep,”

Difficulty staying asleep and poor quality sleep, on the other hand, is often caused by anxiety, he said.

"Obviously, when you're anxious during the day, going to sleep interrupts your conscious thoughts, but your mind continues to process all of the anxiety-provoking thoughts and stressors of the day. This causes people to wake up in the middle of the night, or to feel tired, exhausted in the morning or to have a hard time getting out of bed."

He suggests a strategy to help clear the mind before falling asleep and to improve the quality of sleep.

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