Study finds connection between COVID-19 and insomnia

Researchers in Vietnam have discovered a connection between COVID-19 cases and trouble sleeping in patients.

Of the 1,056 unhospitalized COVID-19 patients featured in the study, 76.1% reported experiencing insomnia. Of those who reported trouble sleeping, 22.8% were found to have severe insomnia.

“One third of participants reported worse sleep quality, shorter sleep duration, and harder to fall asleep, half reported more awaken nights after COVID-19 infection,” the researchers reported. “Participants with depressive … or anxiety … had significantly higher odds of developing insomnia.”

According to Marc Sala, co-director of the Comprehensive COVID Center at Northwestern Medicine, the study’s findings are largely in sync with what doctors treating COVID-19 patients have been seeing.

“So after SARS-CoV-2 infection, there’s certainly a lot of neurocognitive issues that come about,” he told NBC Chicago. “So specifically, people tend to have symptoms of what we call brain fog, or issues with memory and their attention span, and a lot of these are linked to primary neurological brain issues and ailments from whatever COVID has done to their body in terms of inflammation, or other biological patterns to it.

“And so it’s not really surprising that actually, given that your brain also manages your circadian rhythms, that people might have issues with either sleep disordered breathing on the aspect of insomnia, fractured sleep, or even sleep apnea in many individuals,” he added.

The study’s researchers concluded that even COVID-19 patients experiencing mild enough symptoms to not require hospitalization are facing a “substantial burden” of insomnia. They also said there is a significant association of depression and anxiety concerning insomnia connected to COVID-19.

To conduct the study, researchers measured the insomnia severity among 1,068 patients within the Vietnam general population. Participants were COVID-19 survivors of at least 18 years of age who had recovered from the virus within the past six months without hospitalization. Participants with prior medical histories of sleep disorders were excluded.