Marcela Boyacá Mesa
Latin News Agency for Medicine and Public Health
The coronavirus pandemic has produced various phenomena of all kinds, the uncertainty of what is happening and will happen is pervading too much in the minds of people, causing alterations such as: anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. To understand what is happening and to know how this aspect can be improved despite the situation that the world is going through, the Journal of Medicine and Public Health (MSP) spoke with the psychiatrist expert in sleep medicine César González.
“Specifically what seems to be increasing is one of the many sleep disorders what is insomnia, the first publications come from the countries that have already passed the first phase: China, Spain and Italy and in Latin America we are going through a specific phase of the disease and perhaps what we say now tomorrow is not so true in relation to what we see psychiatrists who are basically anxiety disorders, depression disorders and sleep disorders and the three are intimately related, that is, there are no sleep disorders Pure, or pure anxiety disorders, or pure sleep disorders, all are part of a whole.
Physiological processes that allow sleep
The circadian rhythm and the homeostatic rhythm are what allow us to sleep, those that synchronize and regulate all the external and internal factors that make sleep fall, but when these biological and physiological mechanisms are altered due to the change in schedules and routines sleep problems occur.
“The circadian rhythm is altered because sleep habits and schedules are not respected and because we have completely different activities at home than we usually did, we have decreased exercise time, we have more time in front of the screens, we have less pressure to get up early at night. The next day, we have no concern about meeting schedules, and there are different eating habits and schedules, these elements contribute to the circadian rhythm being altered. For its part, homeostatic control after 16 hours of activity, the body asks you to rest and sometimes, as there is no activity as such, those 16 hours can become 17, 18 or 20 hours and that is why the homeostatic rhythm is altered, these are the two factors that contribute to the phenomenon that is being generated regarding this dream in this moment of quarantine ”.
See the full interview here
This term is widely used when people have a problem with sleep, sleep experts have spent years studying what is insomnia, Dr. Gonzalez explained the conclusion they reached.
“Insomnia does not refer to the number of hours you specifically sleep, it refers to the person’s inability to fall asleep, maintain sleep or wake up very early and that the next day their discomforts or symptoms are a consequence of lack of sleep, for example a person may have a headache, may feel crabby, may feel sadness, boredom, easy tiredness, fatigue and motor clumsiness basically that feeling the next day is what defines us as insomnia. ”
It is considered chronic insomnia when the person lasts more than three months with sleep problems, in this case as the pandemic started in December 2019, it is possible that many people are suffering from it.
What happens in the body when you don’t sleep well
Sleeping well is sleeping enough hours and at the appropriate time, adults should sleep between 6 and 8 hours a day, in total silence and darkness and in a comfortable bed. Lack of sleep is associated with different physical and mental illnesses.
“People who do not sleep well affect the quality of their health in general and become more likely to develop and have other diseases such as high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases, and there are even studies that show that if one sleeps less of the hours that are has the possibility of dying sooner, that is, mortality increases as sleep decreases. Lack of sleep is also closely related to mental health problems because lack of sleep is a symptom of depression , anxiety and other mental illnesses such as bipolar schizophrenia disorder and others ”.
What to do to prevent and improve sleep disorders
There is good news, the body and mind can adjust to new routines, the nervous system has a system called neuronal plasticity, and this allows it to adapt to modifications. Dr. Gonzales mentioned the main recommendations that if carried out can help improve sleep problems and prevent them.
-The bed is solo to sleep and have sexual activity
-Sleep time should be equal to time in bed
-If you have trouble sleeping get out of bed, don’t stimulate your brain with lights or screens
-Establish strict sleep schedules
-Avoid naps, if it is a maximum of 15 minutes and better semi-sitting
-If you wake up at dawn, do not look at the time, turn on lights, or screens
-Eat little at night, three hours before sleeping
-Bathing before sleeping
-Physical exercise should be maximum at noon
-Avoid caffeinated drinks
-Do relaxation exercises