Chronic insomnia after recovering from Covid-19

Ho Chi Minh CityThree months after recovering from Covid-19, Mai Lan (35 years old) always lost sleep, flickered for a few hours every night, leading to fatigue and irritability.

Before and during the Covid-19 treatment period in August, Ms. Lan was in good physical and mental health and had never lost sleep. At the beginning of September, a month after she recovered from her illness, she began to have trouble sleeping, restless sleep. Her mother – a severe F0 hospitalized, had the same condition. She said, mother and daughter often lie awake until morning, even though they try to relax and not play on the phone. Sleep is broken into small intervals, about 1-2 hours long, by awakenings. On average, every day for three consecutive months, she slept 3-4 hours.

Long-term lack of sleep makes Ms. Lan not focus on work at the company, and online sales are also affected because she is easily irritable, frustrated, headache, tired. Sister and mother take some herbal sleeping pills under the guidance of a doctor; examined at a traditional medicine hospital, took 10 doses of traditional Chinese medicine for 20 days, supplemented with substances such as calcium, iron, zinc…, fell asleep faster, but the state of waking up in the middle of the night did not improve. Lan’s mother gradually slept better, returned to her normal state, and has now stopped taking medication.

After examining and eliminating causes such as depression, stress from work, unemployment, etc., the doctor diagnosed that Ms. Lan’s insomnia was caused by sequelae of Covid-19 and this condition can last for many years. month. If it is more than 6 months, you need to go to the hospital to do some tests. Lan said she felt very worried, “maybe I have to take sleeping pills for the rest of my life”, she said.

Afraid of drug addiction, she decided not to take the drug anymore, but let her body recover gradually. In addition to the herbal foot bath every night, she practices yoga and meditation. Currently, for nearly a month now, Lan has been able to sleep for 5-6 hours a night, but still wakes up 1-2 times in the middle.

A Covid-19 patient rests while waiting for the procedure to be admitted to the field hospital No. 6, Ho Chi Minh City, in July. Photo: Huu Khoa

Mr. Tran Giang (30 years old, from Hoc Mon) said that both husband and wife suffered from hair loss, body aches, lack of appetite, the most serious problem was chronic insomnia after contracting Covid-19 in mid-September. Previously. , they are the type of “put your back to the bed and snore”, now only sleep a few hours a night, wake up at noon. Linh, who is always sluggish, has dark circles under her eyes, and her skin is darkened. Mr. Giang became more sensitive, noises such as bowls and chopsticks clashing, children playing, and the neighbor’s television also annoyed him. In particular, when returning to the fast delivery job, Mr. Giang lost concentration, delivered the wrong order many times, even fell asleep on a motorbike in front of the guest house. “I’m like a person walking on clouds,” he describes.

He bought a box of herbal sleeping pills, a box of 50 pills, priced at 80,000 VND. Linh took the drug for two weeks, one pill a day, slept for 6-8 hours, then stopped the drug. As for Mr. Giang drinking, he fell asleep easily for the first 10 days, then almost stayed up all night. He was introduced by the pharmacy staff to a more “heavy” drug, belonging to the benzodiazepine group, with “guaranteed to completely cut off insomnia”. Over the past two months, he has taken two pills of this type every night, and feels good and sleeps for a long time.

However, the man said, he often dreams, wakes up feeling tired, difficult to concentrate 100% while driving. Afraid of the drug’s side effects if taken for a long time, he is reducing the dose himself to one pill, but the time to sleep also decreases with the dose of the drug.

According to Dr. Tran Trung Thanh (Head of Department of Neurology, Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital), after recovering from Covid-19 you may experience many problems with neuropsychiatric disorders, of which insomnia is the most common, accounting for about 42 people. %. Patients often go to pharmacies to buy sedatives and sleeping pills, rather than see a doctor. Meanwhile, pharmacies are only allowed to sell prescription sleeping pills or non-narcotic drugs. Sedative and sleep-inducing drugs belong to the group of benzodiazepines (including seduxen, diazepam…) on the list of prescription drugs.

Using benzodiazepines for more than 2-3 weeks like Mr. Giang can cause psychological and physiological dependence, according to doctors. Drug users may experience anxiety, restlessness, insomnia again, even mental breakdown, depression, memory loss, especially in the elderly. Overdose can lead to confusion, lethargy, and incorrect movement.

Doctor Trinh Thi Dieu Thuong (Head of Facility 3, University of Medicine and Pharmacy Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City) said that insomnia is very common, about 30-45% of adults, women more often than men. In addition to Covid-19, the cause of insomnia is mainly due to psychological injuries such as work stress, anxiety, overthinking, and just experiencing psychological trauma; depression or mania. People with medical conditions, using stimulants, or being elderly are also prone to insomnia.

Lack of sleep, poor sleep reduces quality of life (increased fatigue, decreased clarity, daytime sleepiness, confusion, memory impairment, stress and anxiety…), leading to depression , other mental illnesses and the risk of accidents. Insomnia also increases the activation of the nervous system, increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (high blood pressure, myocardial infarction), diabetes, liver damage, poor digestive system, rapid skin aging and dark skin, physiological weakness.

Patients need to find out the cause of insomnia to be able to treat it completely and avoid recurrence. Doctors combine a variety of treatments, such as traditional medicine, behavioral therapy, sleep hygiene, stimulus control, relaxation, cognitive therapy, and medication. Many people buy self-medication drugs, abuse drugs, become addicted to drugs, and depend on drugs, making it difficult to treat later, Dr. Thuong said.

Therefore, the doctor recommends that if you have prolonged insomnia, you need to go to the hospital to examine, diagnose the cause and make an appropriate treatment plan. In addition to drugs, patients need to be psychologically stabilized, exercise regularly, supplement with adequate nutrition, and well manage underlying diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, etc. to improve insomnia.

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