Does Covid cause insomnia? Link between lack of sleep and coronavirus symptoms explained

Disturbed sleep and burnout may be linked to an increased risk of being infected with Covid, as well as more severe illness and a longer recovery period

Covid infections have plummeted across much of the UK after hitting record highs in recent weeks.

This is down from 4.9 million the previous week, which was the highest total since estimates began.

The fall suggests that the recent spike in infections, driven by the highly infectious BA.2 Omicron variant, may now have passed its peak, although experts warn it is still too early to know whether infections are on a clear downward trend.

Disrupted sleep and burnout can increase the risk of being infected with Covid (Composite: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)

The ONS has warned that the prevalence of the virus remains high across the country, meaning many people will face symptoms of Covid infection.

For the most part symptoms will be mild and should begin to improve within a few days, with the majority of people making a full recovery within 12 weeks. However, in some cases, the symptoms can be severe and persist for several months.

The chances of developing long-term symptoms don’t appear to be related to how well you are when you first contract Covid, but some factors are thought to increase the risk of having more serious illness and a recovery period. longer – including sleep.

Can lack of sleep increase the risk of severe Covid?

Insomnia, sleep disturbances and daily exhaustion have been linked to an increased risk of being infected with Covid, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The researchers also suggest that these symptoms may increase the risk of suffering more serious illness and a longer recovery period from the coronavirus.

The International Healthcare Worker Study found that every one-hour increase in time spent sleeping at night was associated with a 12% lower chance of being infected with Covid.

The peer-reviewed study surveyed 2,884 healthcare workers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US, and asked respondents about various lifestyle factors , especially the duration of their sleep.

Of the total surveyed, 568 have caught coronavirus and one in 20 infected people said they had three or more sleep problems. This included difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or taking sleeping pills three or more nights a week.

Around 1 in 4 (137; 24%) of people with Covid reported difficulty sleeping at night, compared to around 1 in 5 (21%; 495) of those uninfected.

Compared to those who had no sleep problems, those who had three had an 88% higher risk of coronavirus infection.

The study added: “Proportionally more people with Covid-19 reported daily exhaustion than those who were not infected: 31 (5.5%) versus 71 (3%).

“Compared to those who reported no burnout, those for whom it was a daily occurrence were more than twice as likely to have Covid-19.

“Similarly, these respondents were also about three times more likely to say their infection was severe and they needed a longer recovery period.”

The researchers also pointed to studies linking burnout to an increased risk of colds and flu as well as long-term conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disease and death. all causes.

Dr Minha Rajput-Ray, Medical Director of the NNEdPro Global Center for Nutrition & Health, said: “This study sheds light on an often overlooked area of ​​well-being: the need for quality sleep and time to rest. recharge to prevent burnout and its consequences.

“From an occupational medicine and lifestyle perspective, a better understanding of the effects of shiftwork and sleep is essential for the well-being of healthcare and other key workers.

“Disturbances to the sleep-wake cycle can affect metabolic, immune, and even psychological health. And sleep deprivation can make high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods more appealing, especially during times of stress and/or difficult work schedules, which is detrimental to health and to general well-being.

Is insomnia linked to Long Covid?

One study found that people with Long Covid had a significantly higher rate of insomnia than those who had never had coronavirus, while another found that between 21.7% and 53% of people with Long Covid complained of trouble sleeping or insomnia.

The reason for the rise in post-Covid insomnia rates is thought to be caused by the body’s efforts to recover from the inflammation caused by the virus during infection.

Sleepstation says, “When you’re sick, your immune system’s response to an infection can have a profound effect on your sleep. Likewise, getting enough, good quality sleep is crucial for your immune system to work at its best and can boost your immune system.

“In Long Covid, if the immune system is still not functioning normally, the body will constantly do its best to reduce inflammation. This could explain why so many people with Long Covid report fatigue as a major symptom.

“It is also thought that inflammation can come and go during Long Covid, which would mean the body has to constantly work to keep everything in balance.

“When your body has to deal with chronic inflammation, your sleep can also be affected. Sleep can be reduced and sleep quality can be compromised. This is thought to be why levels of insomnia are so high in people who have had Covid-19.

Does Covid cause insomnia? Link between lack of sleep and coronavirus symptoms explained

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