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Houston Matters

Pandemics, A Recession, And Civil Unrest Can All Contribute To Sleep Disorders

COVID-19, the economic crash, and mass protests in the streets have all made it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep, according to a Houston sleep expert.

"There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep." - Homer
“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” – Homer


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Sleep is a mystery. You crawl into bed after a long day so tired that your bones feel like weights in your own body. And, if you’re fortunate, you will not recall the next several hours of your life.

But, if you stay awake, the struggle to sleep is one that weighs heavy on a pillow. It seems like the mind becomes a thought machine, cranking out worries and to-do lists. And even the stress of thinking about the consequences that the lack of sleep can have the next day can cause enough anxiety to keep us up.

And all of that was a challenge for many people before things like the COVID-19 pandemic and other major news stories added to our collective stress and anxiety.

So, needless to say, getting good, restful sleep is more important than ever these days — and in some ways more challenging.

In the audio above, Houston Matters host Craig Cohen talks with sleep expert Dr. Sudha Tallavajhula of UTHealth and Memorial Hermann, who answered listener questions about sleep and sleep disorders.

Dr. Tallavajhula said it’s not uncommon to see sleep disorders increase during times of disaster.

“We saw them a lot during Hurricane Harvey, and what we’re experiencing now is a more protracted version, which makes it a little concerning because some of these manual override systems with racing thoughts can actually turn into more perpetuating mechanisms and lead to more chronic issues,” she said.