Nearly 3 in 5 people worldwide have suffered sleep problems during COVID pandemic

Authors: by Study Finds South West News Service writer William Janes contributed to this report

TEMPE, Ariz. — Find yourself struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep more often during the pandemic? You’re far from alone. In fact, sleeping issues are burdening people around the world, with more than nearly six out of 10 people across the globe suffering from poor sleep during COVID, new research shows.

The study involving people from 79 countries around the globe reveals that 56.5 percent of people have experienced some kind of sleep disturbance in the pandemic. Almost two-thirds of those polled dealt with a “delayed sleep” pattern, which was associated with little change in sleep duration or time spent in bed, but a later bedtime and increased nightmares and naps.

The second most common sleep pattern change, experienced by one in five people, was the “sleep lost and fragmented” pattern. Scientists say these people went to bed later and had a shorter time in bed attempting to sleep – in essence, their sleep was restricted, lower in quality, and they were less likely to compensate for it with naps. Women are more likely to experience this disruption than men, results show.

Around one in 10 tended to be “sleep opportunists,” meaning they had significantly restricted sleep opportunities before the pandemic, but spent a lot more time in bed and had the longest sleep duration compared to any of the others. Despite the better sleep, those people also reported the greatest change in their daily routines, which was associated with a lower likelihood of being employed and greater family stress.

The least common sleep pattern was “dysregulated and distressed.” This was experienced by 5 percent of people surveyed. These individuals had the worst sleep deterioration along with more nightmares and naps, and had the worst insomnia symptoms.

“Overall, sleep disturbances were heightened, with 56.5 per cent of our sample reporting clinical levels of insomnia symptoms during the pandemic,” says Dr. Megan Petrov, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University, in a statement. “Sleep is an essential part of living, just like air, water and food. Your health and functioning are compromised when the quality of the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat are poor. This is also the case if your sleep is poor quality and insufficient in quantity.”

The findings are published in the journal Sleep Health.

Chronic fatigue syndrome and long covid: moving beyond the controversy

Authors: Melanie Newman, freelance journalist

Many patients with “long” covid are experiencing extreme fatigue, a situation that has re-polarised approaches to treatment and rehabilitation. Melanie Newman reports

“I submitted the first positive trial of cognitive behavioural therapy [CBT] as a treatment for chronic fatigue in the ’90s,” recalls Michael Sharpe, a professor of psychological medicine who was then a lecturer at Oxford University. “Next thing, my head of department got an unsigned letter, sent to The BMJ, saying that the research study was made up.”

It was the start of a lengthy campaign to prevent and undermine his research by some advocates of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) who object to suggestions that their illness has a psychological element.

After a period of “a lot of awfulness” Sharpe moved to Edinburgh University, where he initially decided to abandon the field but was drawn back by the Pace trial.1 Pace examined the effectiveness of CBT and graded exercise therapy (GET), in which the patient does progressively more exercise over time, combined with medical care. It was always going to be controversial.

“The Medical Research Council was being lobbied, people were trying to stop participants joining the trial—we had so much flak,” he says. Published in 2011 in the Lancet, the Pace trial found that both CBT and GET led to greater improvements in some participants than medical care alone. Since then the trial has been a lightning rod for ME/CFS advocates’ anger, drawing ceaseless attacks on the conduct of the research, the researchers, and the results.

A decade after publication it seems unlikely that a consensus will ever be reached. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has since reviewed its guidance on ME/CFS, and the draft guidance2 expresses concerns about inappropriate use of exercise and CBT, stating that the evidence is mixed or unclear.

Tensions have now resurfaced with the advent of the pandemic and “long” covid or post-covid symptoms. As many as 376 000 people in the UK report symptoms more than 12 months after the first onset of covid-19,3 often experiencing extreme fatigue along with a wide range of other symptoms.

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“COVID fatigue” is hitting hard. Fighting it is hard, too, says UC Davis Health psychologist

Authors: UC Davis Health

There is research that defines the stages of stress on communities from disasters. If it makes anyone feel better, as a society, we are right on target.

Early during or right after a disaster, communities tend to pull together. People support each other and create a sense of community bonding, Hermanson said. Think back to the first weeks of the stay-at-home orders when everyone in neighborhoods waved to everyone else.

“Eventually, that heroic spirit wears thin as the difficulties and stress build up. That’s when we hit the disillusionment phase,” Hermanson said. “We lose our optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions. We ask, ‘What are they doing to fix this? How long will this last?’”

That’s about where we stand now as a society. “Many people are exhausted by it all,” she said. “Some are saying they don’t care if they get COVID-19. They’d rather risk getting sick than stay home or be careful. Others have simply stopped listening to health leaders and science.”

This phase could last a while, in part because the disaster – the COVID-19 pandemic – is still going on.

“Research shows that disillusionment can last up to a year from the start of the disaster,” she said. “And this pandemic is like nothing we’ve experienced before, and it’s not over yet.”

How to cope

“We can help ourselves,” Hermanson said. “We’ve heard this before, but it’s true: It’s time to develop coping skills.” Those include:

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What Is COVID Fatigue?

Authors: Paul Thagard Ph.D.

Pandemic fatigue is a complex of emotions that includes sadness and boredom.

The scientific study of pandemics requires the cooperation of many medical fields including virology, epidemiology, and pulmonology. The impact of behavior on disease spread shows that psychology belongs in the collaboration.

Here are some of the questions that psychology should help to answer.

  1. Why do scientists believe that COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus and that wearing masks is a helpful measure for controlling it?
  2. Why do some ordinary people and leaders deny COVID-19 risks and reject effective measures?
  3. Why do some individuals and leaders make bad decisions about COVID-19 and how could their decision-making be improved?
  4. How can doubtful people be convinced that COVID-19 is a serious problem that needs to be handled with strong measures such as lockdowns and wearing masks?
  5. Why do some people who believe that COVID-19 is a serious problem nevertheless take dangerous risks?

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