Amidst the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, many factors have contributed to a disturbed lifestyle. Lack of a structured schedule, losing track of time and prolonged work hours due to work from home are some of the reasons for stress in youngsters.

“These changes have caused my schedule to be erratic and I sleep whenever I feel like. I fear what will happen once all of this ends. It will be difficult for me to get back to my planned schedules,” says Pankaj Dodwani, Hyderabad-based Piano and French trainer.

In a conversation with #KhabarLive, clinical psychologist Hema V discussed the disturbed sleep pattern of youngsters. “Adjusting to ‘stay home, stay safe’ and trying to remain mentally and physically healthy during this pandemic is an enormous task. Fear of virus, travel restrictions, isolation, financial strains, and uncertainty significantly contribute to sleep disturbances and deprivation,” said the psychologist.

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Another aspect which has made major inroads into the life of people now more than ever is the increased screen time – be it the use of laptops, or phones (due to video calls, Skype meetings, continuous messages), or television to beat the boredom by binge-watching movies or series either on various television channels or umpteen OTT platforms – which is showing its effects on the circadian rhythm of people – especially youngsters.

Lack of fixed schedules and morning rush seems to have set in some kind of lethargy, making people go through a different sleep-wake cycle wherein they are awake till the wee hours, trying to complete a series on OTT or a couple of levels in an enticing game, and sleep in till mid-day. This, in turn, affects the whole biological process, including food intake and digestion.

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An increase in screen time contributes to an unhealthy habit but youngsters find it hard to resist it. “To deal with my boredom, I am online throughout the day. I lose track of time at night and end up sleeping at 3 am every other day. It has become hard to sleep early now,” said Mahima, a college student.

In previous studies, researchers have found that an inadequate amount of sleep for five consecutive nights can negatively affect emotional processing, causing behavioural and neurofunctional changes. To deal with this, Hema lists out ways to overcome insomnia:

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– Schedule your bedtime routine. Be consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time

– Make sure your room is dark and quiet with comfortable temperature

– Reduce screen time and remove electronic gadgets from the bedroom

– Avoid large meals or caffeinated drinks before bedtime

– Be physically active, get fresh air and exercise

– Short naps can be helpful but avoid long naps or naps later in the day

– Make use of deep breathing and relaxation technique

– Avoid using these gadgets an hour before bed. #KhabarLive