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COVID-19 pandemic causing 'coronasomnia', Oklahoma doctor says

Posted at 5:27 PM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 14:56:31-04

TULSA, Okla. — The coronavirus pandemic is impacting our lives in many ways, including how we sleep.

Dr. Michael Newnam, medical director of sleep care at the Oklahoma Heart Institute, calls it "coronasomnia," or trouble sleeping due to a variety of factors from the pandemic.

He said insomnia is more than just having trouble falling asleep.

“Some people can get right to sleep, but they’re up seven or eight times during the night and then they’re struggling to get back to sleep," said Dr. Michael Newnam, medical director of sleep care at the Oklahoma Heart Institute.

"They’re having a disrupted kind of a night.”

From stress to changes in lifestyles, physical activity and schedules, the pandemic is making it difficult to sleep.

“We’ve also lost our boundaries between work environment and home environment," Dr. Newnam said.

"Many people are doing school and work in the home environment, so there’s no separation. So you’re never really leaving work because that’s where you live.”

Dr. Newnam suggests creating a schedule to help protect those boundaries. Not getting adequate sleep can impact not only your day but also your immune system.

“When you’re burning the candle at both ends and you’re not really getting that restorative sleep, you’re body physically suffers," Dr. Newnam said.

"But also mentally and emotionally you suffer. You don’t have really the wherewithal to make it through stressful times in the day if you haven’t gotten much sleep.”

He said to practice good “sleep hygiene" which includes setting a good temperature in the room, making that sleep schedule, no caffeine late in the day and unplugging from electronics and the world before you go to bed.

“Part of this pandemic’s insomnia is related to stress," Newnam said.

"And so you can’t turn on the TV or go onto social media without being bombarded with things that are very, very stressful. And so you actually have to make a conscious choice to unplug from that and do things that are relaxing that kind of bring you joy and happiness before you go to sleep.”

Dr. Newnam also said to avoid looking at the time if you wake up in the middle of the night and don’t calculate how much time before your alarm goes off. He said doing so will just make it harder to go back to sleep.

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