The Covid-19 pandemic has led many people to struggle with sleep disorders.
Some people cannot return to a normal sleep schedule after working from home and staying up late.
Others gained weight and their airway obstruction worsened. Then there is a group of anxiety, grief or guilt, suffering from what is called coronasomnia.
“The insomnia got worse with the epidemic,” says Dr. Samuel Gurevich, pulmonologist and sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Florida. “Stress and difficulty sleeping go hand in hand. “
In South Florida, the sleep field includes surgeons, pulmonologists, internists and therapists who tackle the barrier to a good night’s sleep through different approaches.
As the pandemic attracts more and more patients – desperate to get rid of fatigue – experts are using new innovations to help them sleep better.
These innovations range from medical devices and implanted devices to sleep coaching, intense therapy, acupuncture and hypnosis.
One thing sleep experts all advocate: Ditch sleeping pills.
“You will become dependent and eventually need it more and more,” says Dr. Gurevich. “When you try to get rid of it, you’ll be worse off than when you started. “
Doctors say they look for medical problems first, including sleep apnea, a condition where breathing disrupts sleep.
People no longer need to sleep in laboratories to find out if they have this disease.
Most of the time, they can do home tests that monitor breathing and other vital signs.
Dr Brian Gotkin, pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Memorial Healthcare System (MHS), says heart problems and weight gain brought on by the pandemic have worsened cases of sleep apnea.
“More people were inactive during Covid-19. They have gained weight and it has affected their snoring and sleep difficulty breathing, and now they are more tired during the day and need help, ”says Dr Gotkin, who heads the MHS Sleep Lab.
One of the newer treatments for obstructive sleep apnea is an FDA approved device that is implanted in the body and is controlled by the patient using a small portable remote that is turned on before bedtime.
Charles Zeller, an otolaryngologist with the Broward Health Physician Group, says he has already had three implants this year.
“We’re trying to help the huge upsurge in patients who just can’t find a good treatment solution for their sleep apnea,” Zeller says.
For chronic insomnia, South Florida sleep coaches say they’re stuck with patients who need help retraining their bodies and minds to shut down after multiple stressors caused by the pandemic.
Some are arriving after primary care doctors refuse to refill their sleeping pills, coaches say.
“With insomnia, there is an event that triggers it, in this case the pandemic,” said Elizabeth Bonet, sleep therapist.
“Then you get into the bad habit of sleeping poorly and then worrying about your bad night’s sleep, which makes it worse. I now train a lot of people who have realized that their problem is fixable. “
Bonet says that coaching combined with hypnosis takes around 10 to 12 weeks to resolve sleep issues.
In addition to coaching, Dr Ashwin Mehta, internist and sleep specialist at MHS, says he uses acupuncture, nutrition, exercise and mindfulness techniques to target insomnia.
“Insomnia can go from acute sleep loss to a more chronic pattern. We need to break this cycle,” says Dr Mehta, adding that patients need to know that coaching and other techniques are not the answer. miracle provided by drugs, but have longer term effects.
“It takes time to let go and relax,” he says. “During a pandemic, more and more people find it is something that they have to make a conscious effort to do. – South Florida Press Service Sun Sentinel / Tribune