I don’t know if this comes as news to you, but it sure did for me – the Lockdown Sleep Syndrome has now been institutionally recognised by being mentioned in the Consensus guidelines of the Indian Sleep Disorders Association and the Journal of the International Society of eHealth and Telemedicine.
COVID-19 came as that outswinger no one saw coming, a fast-paced counter-attack no could predict. As we bend towards March, starting from the lockdown all around the world, a whole year of our lives has been around COVID-19 now, officially.
Getting to today’s topic of contention – if we were in a room tonight I really would want to ask for a show of hands for the number of people who’s sleep was never affected due to the pandemic. And if you were one of those few whose sleep was never affected I truly do not know how I would react to that.
Maybe in a month or so we’d start dating because I would truly be in such awe because that’s exactly what happened when I first spoke to my girlfriend sometime around April when the lockdown was at its peak. She’d replied to my text at 8 am AFTER walking up? And I hadn’t slept the whole night before and was about to hit the sack. You tell me who sounds more normal.
All of it said and done, the Lockdown Sleep Syndrome wasn’t as funny the further we got into the year. Despite my efforts and everyone’s, it was almost impossible for me to get my body clock back in shape. I would either sleep the whole day or not sleep at all, and the two together sang a perfect symphony of cause and effect. Insomnia has been the star for most people suffering from this disorder but hypersomnia has not gone unnoticed coupled with Narcolepsy.
It was the worst of times for people already suffering from sleep disorders or anxiety and mental health issues who saw their symptoms worsening and were helpless in the matter. Specialists also noted persistent insomnia for several weeks in patients infected with the virus and excessive sleepiness and symptoms of narcolepsy after recovery.
The ill-effects of this disorder do not need detailing since insomnia has already been having its own mini pandemic in the making in recent decades. It’s quite simple, sleep is the body’s natural recovery process. You take that away and you simply don’t recover, as a consequence of which one experiences lack of concentration, fatigue, dizziness, excessive desire to eat or loss of appetite. Your body tries to figure out what’s wrong but isn’t quite able to.
Many stories started pouring in about people and their sleep cycles. People genuinely concerned since a new kind of light was being shed on insomnia and having bad sleep cycles. Sleep therapists also had their hands tied due to the pandemic stifling the majority of their efforts.
Untreated insomnia manifests itself as something known as GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). Patients with GAD will experience fatigue, irritability, restlessness, lack of concentration, unwanted thoughts, anxiety and fear attacks, emotional distress, excessive worrying, headaches, palpitations, et al. Those with comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension are at an increased risk of having aggravated sleep problems, say doctors.
It’s extremely unsettling at the top of all these factors to be subjected to realities of life like being dismissed from your jobs, being at financial risks, stuck away from family and loved ones and the never-ending consumption of COVID-19 news.
Sunlight is our biggest zeitgeber or ‘time giver’. Our body clock functions accordingly and suddenly snatching it away having drastic results is not at all surprising. People who are accustomed to living healthy active lifestyles, myself included were forced to become shut-ins.
As someone who loved sports, I found some respite in eSports and gaming which before the pandemic is something I simply never had the time or interest for. Having a group of friends who play together for a fixed amount of time before going to bed helps create a support group of sorts with who you can lean on and create healthy habits together.
Luckily for me, I had my inspiration and a part of this friend circle in my girlfriend who throughout maintained her sleep cycle. It took a lot of conscious effort and that is something I cannot negate but eventually, I too have joined the old boys club of sleep on time and fixing my sleep cycle.
With the vaccine now being administered and the lockdowns easing up it is the perfect time to fix your sleep cycles before the world heads into the hustle-bustle which comes with its own set of challenges. Here’s to wishing whoever is reading this a bright day and the best of luck on your journey!
Written by Priyansh Bhattacharya
The author often finds himself shuttling between Pacific Standard Time and Indian Standard Time not because he frequents between the places but just by virtue of the timeline of his daily activities. He can also be found running in his sleep at 6 a.m during morning PT and therefore considers himself qualified to write these articles. Viewer discretion is advised. Hit him up on his email!