Updated: Sep 27, 2020
During the #Covid-19 outbreak, a lot of individuals have been exposed to risks due to stress. Confinement-related stress may be caused by an inability to engage in rewarding activities such as visiting friends and family, shopping, attending cultural and sporting events, and visiting bars or restaurants. Spending more time with family in a limited space can also induce stress, particularly in situations where there are pre-existing family difficulties. Particularly, for those who live alone and for older people, the current confinement situation may induce or exacerbate loneliness.
Except for the daytime stress, anxiety, or depression, a percentage of the population has been also dealing with sleeping problems. Consequently, insufficient sleep directly affects the activities of the next day as well as the emotional state.
Stress-related sleep problems are common, whereas individuals, sensitive to stress-related sleep disruption, are more likely to develop chronic insomnia. Pre-existing insomnia is a major risk factor for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when exposed to a major stressor which, in turn, may increase further sleep disruption.
Huang & Zhao, 2020, showed that post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms after the Covid-19 outbreak were reported by 7% of the Wuhan residents, especially women. Women suffer more frequently from poor sleep and insomnia than men. Within the group of women, mothers are those who most commonly report sleep disruption and insomnia, especially during pregnancy and the first years of their child/children life.
Furthermore, people under 35 years old, following COVID-19 news updates for more than 3 hours a day, showed elevated levels of anxiety compared with those who were older than 35 years and those who were less exposed to COVID-19 news updates.
A lack of regular social interaction can indeed enhance stress and negatively affect sleep quality, although this relationship is usually intermediated by depression and stress due to loneliness. Although, people who live alone, but don't feel lonely, sleep quality isn't supposed to be affected. The current period of social confinement may be particularly stressful for mothers or other primary caregivers who need to manage childcare as well as managing household affairs and work.
CBT-I ACADEMY TASKFORCE has given some recommendations to deal with sleeping problems during the quarantine. They suggest keeping a regular night-time and wake-up time schedule; to schedule brief times, for example, 15 minutes during the day to stress and reflect upon the situation; find helpful distractions; as well as use social media to share feelings of stress and anxiety with family and friends.