Anxieties surrounding health and finances, together with abrupt lifestyle changes during the pandemic, have wreaked havoc with people’s sleeping patterns with many complaining that they can no longer enjoy a sound sleep at night, doctors said.
Doctors said their clinics were crowded with patients complaining about frequent breaks during sleep, reduced sleeping hours and difficulty in falling asleep.
The death and devastation caused by Covid has given birth to chronic anxiety among people. An everlasting fear about their own health and that of their family is common to many.
Job loss, slump in business or the worry of how to run the family with a reduced income is behind the anxiety in many others.
Two years of working from home, which has led to reduced physical activities, lifestyle changes like going to bed late and lack of exercise have also disrupted the old sleeping patterns.
Sleeping disorder has been rising over the last few years and Covid has only aggravated the problem and sharply increased the number of people suffering from it, doctors said.
Many people who had no sleep-related problems before Covid have grown such disorders and others who had some mild symptoms have seen the symptoms multiply.
“I have witnessed a manifold increase in sleep disorders among people over the last two years. The common complaints are that they cannot get a sound sleep at night or that their sleeping hours have severely reduced,” said Sourav Das, a sleep medicine specialist and consultant psychiatrist.
The effects of poor sleep at night continue into the next day as these people suff-er from lethargy and feel sleepy throughout the day, which in turn affects their work.
A man in his 40s, who runs a real estate business in the city, suffered huge losses
during Covid. His business is yet to recover from the slump and it worries him every night.
“I cannot sleep well any longer. This has been happening for nearly one-and-a-half-years now. What keeps worrying me is how I will recover from losses and grow my business. I have a family and my business is my only source of income,” the man said.
Psychiatrist Ranadip Ghosh Roy said a good number of his patients have always complained of sleep problems but the situation has only worsened following the outbreak of Covid-19.
“People are often going to sleep at 3 or 4am. As a result there is a feeling of depression the next day, they do not feel like doing any work,” he said.
Being stuck at home on most days, there is little scope for fun and recreation. Though most restrictions imposed to keep Covid numbers in check have been lifted, many people are still wary of mixing in a crowd.
People find watching a movie or a series on their mobile phones or laptops a good way to relax, post-work. This keeps them hooked to the screens till well past midnight.
By the time they go to sleep, an anxiety builds up that they may not be able to get a good sleep. This anxiety further prevents them from falling asleep, said doctors.
Some doctors blamed lack of movement during the pandemic for the rise in sleeping disorders. No or little movement led to an increase in body weight and fat deposition, said ENT surgeon and sleep apnea surgeon Uttam Agarwal.
“If there is little body movement, there is fat deposition in the human body.
Some of the fat gets deposited in the tongue and palate, which narrows the airway. This leads to snoring. Such people are at a greater risk of developing sleep apnea,” said Agarwal.