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News Medical: New study highlights impact of sleep disturbances on COVID-19 and Long Covid

In a recent study published in eClinicalMedicineresearchers examined the influence of pre-existing sleep disturbances on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) susceptibility, severity, and long-term effects.

By Dr. Sushama R. Chaphalkar, PhD.


The study found that pre-existing sleep disturbances elevated the risk of susceptibility to COVID-19, as well as hospitalization, mortality, and long COVID, with age and sex playing a role.


A total of 48 relevant observational studies with 8,664,026 participants were included from databases including Web of Science, PubMed, and Embase. The studies investigated COVID-19 susceptibility, hospitalization, mortality, and Long Covid.

Case reports, brief communications, letters, reviews, and preprints were excluded. Most studies were conducted in the United States of America, and up to 72% of the participants were male. The studies focused on four sleep disturbances: OSA, insomnia, abnormal sleep duration, and night-shift work.

Reports and Discussion

Participants with pre-existing sleep disturbances were more susceptible to COVID-19 (OR = 1.12). Specific disturbances like OSA, abnormal sleep duration, and night shift work also increased COVID-19 occurrence.

Higher susceptibility was found in low- and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries and in studies with unadjusted ORs. Younger individuals with sleep disturbances showed increased susceptibility (OR = 1.20), while older individuals did not.

Further, patients with pre-existing sleep disturbances had a higher risk of COVID-19 hospitalization (OR = 1.25), with all sleep disturbances except insomnia contributing to this increased risk. The association was stronger in patients younger than 60 years.

Pre-existing sleep disturbances were also found to increase COVID-19 mortality (OR = 1.45), mainly due to OSA. This risk was higher in older patients and males. Diabetes was found to be a significant source of heterogeneity, with a stronger association between sleep disturbances and COVID-19 mortality in diabetic patients as compared to the general population.

Moreover, pre-existing sleep disturbances significantly increased the risk of developing long COVID (OR = 1.36). The association was stronger for long COVID defined as symptoms lasting ≥3 months compared to ≥1 month.

The ME Association has a comprehensive booklet on Sleep Management available as a free download below:

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