Is insomnia a symptom of COVID-19?

Sleep disorders such as insomnia are commonplace. However, the number of people reporting sleep quality issues has increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insomnia can be short-lived or chronic. It also affects people differently. Some symptoms of insomnia are:

  • inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
  • tiredness or irritability during the day
  • wake up too early

If you’re wondering if COVID-19 can cause insomnia, read on. In this article, we will discuss the theories and data behind the increase in sleep disturbances and their possible link to COVID-19.

It’s not your imagination. The bleary-eyed faces greeting you on Zoom or in person are a telltale sign that a lot of people aren’t sleeping well these days. You might be wondering if insomnia is a symptom of COVID?

A Meta-analysis 2022 looked at data from nearly half a million people in 49 countries during the pandemic. The researchers found that about 37% had sleep problems. This figure was higher for people infected with COVID-19 than for uninfected people – more than 52%.

Sleep problems were more likely to:

  • children and teenagers
  • university students
  • healthcare workers, especially nurses
  • people with special health care needs, such as pregnant women, the elderly, or people with chronic conditions

The study also cited insomnia as the most common sleep problem. He represented 80% sleep problems.

While COVID-19 and sleep disorders often go hand in hand, experts are still trying to figure out what connects them. Possible causes and connections include:

Stress and worry

Worry and anxiety certainly seem to play a role in the increased rates of insomnia. Worries about the illness or disease of a loved one have become constant for many people. Concerns about finances, jobs and other pandemic-related issues have also been widespread.

A study 2022 found that worrying about COVID was a predictor of insomnia. Exposure to COVID-19 risk factors does not appear to cause insomnia, but worrying about exposure led to poor quality sleep.

According to the World Health Organization, levels of stress and anxiety have skyrocketed by 25% during the first year of the pandemic. Anxiety can disrupt sleep patterns. It is therefore not surprising that insomnia has increased alongside the escalation of stress levels.

Routine disruption

Sticking to a solid sleep routine is a good way to improve sleep quality. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily routines of many, if not most people. Working from home, having kids home after school, or losing a job are disruptors that can distort sleep patterns, causing insomnia and poor sleep quality.

According research 2021, routines help us synchronize our sleep-wake rhythms with day-night cycles. When the pandemic disrupted our routines, it also affected our sleep.

For some people, a side effect of routine disruption is isolation. This can add to the emotional distress caused by COVID-19 and further aggravate sleep issues.

Covid-19 symptoms

A 2022 review also suggests that COVID-19 symptoms can disrupt your sleep. If you have the virus, you may feel exhausted, feverish and sick. If you have a stuffy nose and cough constantly, you may have trouble sleeping or resting.

Spending all day in bed sick can make it harder to fall asleep and wake up at the appropriate times.

COVID long

Long COVID is also called post-COVID syndrome, long haul COVID and other names. This is when you have new, recurring, or persistent symptoms for weeks, months, or years after recovering from COVID. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)sleep issues are a neurological symptom of long COVID, along with issues like brain fog and fatigue.

A 2022 study looked at how often a group of people with long COVID had disrupted sleep. Researchers found that more than 40% of study participants suffered from moderate to severe sleep disturbances. A history of anxiety disorders increased their risk of insomnia. Blacks and obese people were also at higher risk.

It’s unclear what causes long COVID or why insomnia is a common symptom. One theory is that inflammatory and immune responses caused by COVID-19 infection can alter your circadian rhythm. This is your sleep-wake pattern for each 24-hour day.

A study 2022 of 314 adults with long COVID found that a significant percentage of study participants had difficulty falling asleep and waking up at their usual times. This pattern of insomnia suggests delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, a type of circadian rhythm sleep disorder.

If you’ve spent countless nights staring at the ceiling, you’re probably wondering how long it can last. There is not yet enough data to determine the potential duration of COVID-related sleep problems.

Acute (short-lived) insomnia can last for several weeks. Chronic (long-lasting) insomnia can last for several months or longer. Insomnia can also come and go.

People with long-lasting COVID-19 infections and COVID have reported experiencing insomnia for widely varying durations.

Insomnia, circadian rhythm disorder, and other sleep problems have become so prevalent that people have coined the term “coronasomnia” to categorize them. Coronasomnia loosely refers to symptoms such as:

  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • disturbed sleep
  • nightmares
  • inability to naturally maintain a sleep schedule
  • extreme fatigue or exhaustion
  • brain fog and difficulty concentrating
  • anxiety
  • the Depression
  • feeling stressed

You can have all the symptoms of coronasomnia and never have COVID. Experiencing these difficult times can disrupt not only sleep, but also quality of life. Data indicates that around 20% of people have suffered from insomnia due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frontline workers, especially those caring for COVID patients, have above-average rates of coronasomnia. People under stress of any type, including parents, teachers and caregivers, are also at risk.

It’s important to remember that researchers have yet to prove a link between COVID infection and sleep disturbances. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. It just means that we don’t yet know a mechanism that causes one to lead to the other.

Insomnia and other sleep disturbances may be due to COVID-19. They can also be due to pandemic life.

If you have symptoms of acute insomnia, these tips may help relieve them:

  • Establish a solid sleep routine.
  • Make your bedroom sleep-friendly by keeping the lights dim and the temperature cool.
  • Eliminate distracting noise or use white noise to mask it.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages in the evening.
  • Try not to eat large meals too close to bedtime.
  • Turn off electronic devices, including your phone and computer, several hours before bedtime.
  • Read or meditate in bed before trying to sleep.
  • Avoid sleeping too late in the morning or napping during the day.

You might also consider talking with a doctor about any medications or supplements, such as melatonin, that might help.

If you suffer from chronic insomnia, you may need the advice of a medical professional.

A therapist may be able to guide you through cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that can help you sleep effectively. Talk therapy can be beneficial in resolving emotional issues that might be causing insomnia. A doctor can prescribe medications that can help.

COVID-19 and long COVID can cause or worsen sleep disturbances, such as insomnia. Researchers don’t yet fully understand how or why this happens.

Coping with pandemic life and lingering fears about the virus can also cause emotional distress, which can negatively affect sleep.

More research is needed on the many ways COVID can affect sleep quality. Until then, there are healthy habits you can incorporate, or medications or supplements you can take that can help. You can also reduce your risk, and perhaps ease your mind, by keeping track of your vaccinations.

Is insomnia a symptom of COVID-19?

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