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Wear the Gown: Living with insomnia during the COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors with UT Physicians report an uptick in cases of patients with insomnia since March.

HOUSTON — Have your sleep patterns changed since the start of the pandemic?

Doctors with UT Physicians report an uptick in cases of patients with insomnia since March.

“For some people, a major lifetime event can trigger acute insomnia,” said Dr. Justin Wong, who specializes in pulmonary critical care and sleep medicine.

Dr. Wong said the key is to make sure acute insomnia doesn’t become chronic, which means a person experiences sleepless nights more than three times a week for three months.

Often times, people with chronic insomnia have trouble function during the day and also experience physical issues, like weight loss.

Many people have also reported having vivid dreams during quarantine. Dr. Wong said dreams themselves cannot affect your health, but what can be harmful is rapid eye movement, or REM, behavioral disorder. It’s when the body does not stay paralyzed during REM sleep.

“If our body fails to be paralyzed when we’re dreaming, sometimes, we can actually act out those dreams, which can result in physical injury,” Dr. Wong said.

Want to get back on track with your sleep? Maintain a bedtime routine, pay attention to the time you go to sleep every night, and put down your cell phone or tablet 30 minutes before you plan to sleep.