CHARLESTON, W.V. (WOWK) — As the delta variant spreads and vaccination and masking continue to be top of mind, some people are becoming anxious and losing shut-eye over it.
“It makes me very anxious and a little nervous,” said Nina Casto, a resident of Charleston, West Virginia.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed course on some masking guidelines, recommending that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is fueling infection surges.
COVID-19 and its variants have caused so much stress that many people are not sleeping well, creating a negative cycle, with sleep deprivation causing even more stress. Sleep specialists are calling it coronasomnia or COVID-somnia.
“Since the pandemic started last year, we have seen a significant increase in the number of insomnia [cases],” said sleep specialist Dr. Loay Alasadi. “It’s a new disease; we had no treatment for it. It has been devastating to the economy and the population.”
According to the Sleep Foundation, coronasomnia is characterized by increased sleep issues during the pandemic, as well as anxiety, depression and stress.
According to sleep doctors, the average time it takes to fall asleep is 30 minutes, but those suffering from COVID-somnia can take hours to do so.
“These lockdowns have sort of made me regress, years and years backwards. I’ve been set back for almost half a decade. Every single night, it is very difficult to get to sleep,” said Michael Fischer, a resident of Sissonville, West Virginia.
But experts say there are ways to avoid this problem.
“Just follow the rules, get your vaccine, and if you’re still worried about it, try and have what we call a worry time — 5 to 6 p.m., 3 to 4 p.m. Try to avoid worrying close to bedtime,” said Alasadi.
He also recommends practicing techniques such as exercising earlier in the day, cutting out caffeinated drinks or alcohol after midday, and stopping smoking to avoid COVID-somnia.
Currently, about 164.9 million people, or 49.7% of Americans, have been fully vaccinated, according to CDC data, with 191.8 million people, or 57.8%, having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.