COVID-19 Pandemic Caused Insomnia Among Medical Staff

Publish On: 14 Apr, 2020 03:36 PM | Updated   |   Shivalik  

The deadly coronavirus that has infected quite 1.9 million people globally isn't just a physical health threat as researchers have found that quite a 3rd of medical staff responding to the outbreak during its peak in China suffered from insomnia.

According to the study, published within the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, the healthcare workers who experienced sleeplessness were also more likely to feel depressed, anxious and have stress-based trauma.

"Typically, stress-related insomnia is transient and persists for only a few days. But if the COVID-19 outbreak continues, insomnia may gradually become chronic insomnia in the clinical setting," said study co-author Bin Zhang, Professor at Southern Medical University in China.

The results are supported a series of self-administered questionnaires conducted online between January 29 and February 3 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in China. 

Researchers used the WeChat social media platform to collect answers from 1,563 participants in the medical field. Of that number, 564 people, or 36.1 per cent, had insomnia symptoms.

The authors of the present study note that the statistic is according to previous research conducted on the psychological effects of the 2002 outbreak of SARS, a related coronavirus that also causes severe respiratory distress. 

For example, 37 per cent of nurses who worked with SARS patients experienced insomnia.

The insomnia group within the current paper experienced significantly higher levels of depression than the non-insomnia group, 87.1 per cent versus 31 per cent, especially in moderate (22.9 per cent versus 2.8 per cent) and severe (16.7 per cent versus 1.8 per cent) cases. 

The percentages and differences between the groups were similar for anxiety and trauma also . The team also identified certain factors that were correlated with insomnia.

"The most important factor was having very strong uncertainty regarding effective disease control among medical staff," Zhang noted.

Strong uncertainty was 3.3 times higher for those exhibiting insomnia than not, the study said.

Staff with less education were also susceptible to the disorder . 

Specifically, researchers found the danger of insomnia among medical staff with a highschool education or below was 2.69 times above those with a doctoral degree. 

They speculated that less education led to more outcome-based fear.

The authors noted that healthcare workers were also under incredible stress generally. 

They were in close contact with infected patients who could expire the disease to them. They were worried about infecting their circle of relatives and friends. 

"Under these dangerous conditions, medical staff become mentally and physically exhausted, and therefore experience an increased risk of insomnia due to high stress," they wrote.