Expert Q&A: How Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Affected Sleep (Sleep Apnea, Insomnia) & Why Is Sleep So Important? by Dr. Sairam Parthasarathy
Sleep apnea and insomnia have been on the rise for decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated both. University of Arizona sleep researchers are working on research and applications to help solve these problems.
Q: What is the state of sleep for Americans today?
A. Modern-day insomnia and sleep apnea research began decades ago, and since then, both diseases have been becoming more prevalent. Now, pandemic anxiety is on the rise and as a result, there's a new term – "coronasomnia" – for the inability to sleep caused by pandemic stress. Sleep apnea is also on the rise, especially as people have become more likely to gain weight because they are not eating right and have been more sedentary over the past year.
Q: Why is good sleep so important?
A: Sleep apnea (a disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep) increases blood pressure and increases the risk for heart attack and stroke two to threefold. One thing our lab is doing is trying to get people to adhere to CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) use. We're testing what's called peer-driven intervention, whereby patients with sleep apnea who are adherent to CPAP therapy share their experiences with individuals who are not adherent. The peer-to-peer support encourages them to adhere to CPAP therapy and, ultimately, both patients experience significant improvements in health-related quality of life during the course of their interactions.
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