Struggling with sleep disorders is challenging in the best of times, and the last year has not been the best of times. The pandemic has disrupted rhythms and routines across the globe, causing an increase in sleep disorders.
Patients with existing disorders, like Narcolepsy Type 1 (NT1), have been impacted as well. Working from home while also trying to lead a usual daily life in the same space makes it difficult to maintain proper sleep.
Changes Brought About By COVID-19
A study was conducted on NT1 patients in Italy, which shut down sooner than other nations. Telephone followups were conducted and the group, which was under consistent treatment before the pandemic, were in three sections.
20 of them had unchanged work schedules. 22 were required to work or study from home due to the lockdown. 8 of the group had lost their employment entirely.
Those who lost their jobs had no real change in their illness compared to before the pandemic. However, those who were still working their normal schedule reported significantly higher disturbances in nighttime sleep.
Those working or studying from home slept longer at night than before the pandemic. They also napped during the day more often. As a result, they were less sleepy during the day. This group also showed weight gain.
Other symptoms, like automatic behaviors, cataplexy, and sleep-related paralysis/hallucinations did not change for any group during the pandemic compared with before.
How This Impacts NT1 Treatment
Because of the reduction in excessive daytime sleepiness for the work-at-home group, a sleep physician treating NT1 patients can look at additional therapeutic options. For instance, sleep hygiene and scheduled napping can make a significant difference.
These changes can have a positive impact on circadian rhythms in patients with NT1, helping them reduce sleepiness while not worsening other symptoms.