Three in four people who had mild COVID-19 infections developed insomnia, according to new research.
A survey of people who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 but never hospitalized found that 76.1 percent developed insomnia, and people who were anxious or depressed were even more vulnerable to this.
Scientists already knew that insomnia was common in patients who had to be hospitalized, but this study from Phenikaa University, Vietnam, is the first to study the sleep habits of those with mild infections.
Lead author Dr. Huong Hoang said: “As a sleep researcher, I received many questions and complaints from relatives, friends, and colleagues about their sleep disturbances after recovering from COVID-19.
“I found that the majority of papers focused on hospitalized patients. The environment of their treatment and quarantine would differ greatly from those with milder symptoms.”
To get their results, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, the team recruited 1,056 people over the age of 18 who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 but not hospitalized in the last six months, and who reported no history of insomnia or psychiatric conditions.
These participants were sent out a survey to complete between June and September of 2022.
They found that 76.1 percent of participants reported experiencing insomnia, and 22.8 percent of those people reported severe insomnia.
Half the participants said they woke more often in the night, while a third said that they found it harder to fall asleep, slept worse, and slept for less time.
There was no significant link between the severity of their infections and the severity of insomnia experienced.
Two groups of people, however, did have statistically significant higher rates of insomnia.
These were people who had a pre-existing chronic condition, and people who scored highly for depressive or anxious symptoms.
When the researchers looked at those patients who reported insomnia, their depression and anxiety scores were higher than the average scores of the entire sample.
The researchers note that the rate of insomnia reported by these patients was much higher than both the general population and hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Dr. Hoang said: “If you experience insomnia after COVID-19, don’t think that is normal.
“If insomnia does not bother you much, you can take some simple actions, such as: taking a warm shower before bedtime, shutting your phone down at least one hour before going to bed, doing 30 minutes of exercise per day, and avoiding caffeine after 4 pm.
“In case insomnia really troubles you, you can try some over-the-counter sleep aids. If they don’t help, go to see a sleep therapist.”
The researchers say more research is needed to investigate the relationship between COVID-19, mental health problems, and insomnia.
Dr. Hoang added: “Since this is a cross-sectional study, the relationship of anxiety and depression with insomnia cannot be fully investigated.
“In addition, collecting data online and a convenience sampling method can cause recall bias and selection bias.
“However, due to the situation in Vietnam at that time, collecting data via electronic invitation and convenience sampling was the most efficient and feasible strategy.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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