UArizona professor explains how to help sleep issues from COVID anxiety

Mar 22, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 6:06 am
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX – Sleeping disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia were worsened by the pandemic so much that a new term was coined to describe sleeping issues brought on by anxiety related to COVID-19 – coronasomnia.

Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy, professor of medicine at the University of Arizona and medical director of the Center for Sleep Disorders at Banner University Medical Center Tucson, explained the most common areas of concern he sees are worries of where the pandemic is headed amid new variants and economic stresses.

“We see patients in the clinic who express these concerns or problems and as a result, their sleep is one of the first things to suffer,” he said.

“More and more research is showing how sleep is important for the body’s normal physiology to function well. It’s important for every single organ system.”

That is why Parthasarathy recommended taking proactive steps to improve sleep quality and quantity amid the present uncertainty of COVID-19.

“What people need to do is get their usual amount of steps or exercise in the morning, late morning or early afternoon, but not in the evening or close to bedtime,” Parthasarathy said.

He also emphasized the importance of trying to eat healthy throughout the day, avoiding blue light screens – such as phones, laptops and TVs – right before falling asleep and setting a regular time to fall asleep and wake up.

Parthasarathy advised avoiding alcohol as a “sleeping pill,” saying it might help people fall asleep but it impacts the quality of sleep.

He said adults need at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, while children and adolescents need more.

If people have trouble sleeping or have concerns regarding sleep, Parthasarathy recommended talking to a doctor – especially minorities and those with high-demand jobs.

He also advised taking advantage of emotional support hotlines to help deal with pandemic-related anxiety.

To participate in a National Institute of Health-funded study examining COVID-19 related practices, including sleep, Parthasarathy asked interested individuals to text JOIN to 844-844-3004.

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UArizona professor explains how to help sleep issues from COVID anxiety