Research Nugget

Sleep Health and Long COVID

Poor sleep health is evident in individuals with a history of COVID-19, particularly those with more severe symptoms at the time of their COVID-19 infection, and is associated with a poorer quality of life. This is according to a study conducted by a team of local researchers (funded by the NRF) and international researchers, which explored sleep health in an international sample of individuals who reported previously testing positive for COVID-19.

Using an online survey, the researchers assessed self-reported sleep health, as recalled before a COVID-19 diagnosis and as reported currently, of 1 001 individuals across different geographical regions, including North and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe, who reported a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. The survey was conducted from March to June 2021.

The study found that individuals reported a poorer overall current sleep health, with poorer ratings across the six dimensions of sleep health, i.e. sleep regularity, satisfaction, alertness, timing, efficiency, and duration, compared to their ratings as recalled before COVID-19 infection. Furthermore, a greater severity of symptoms during COVID-19 infection was the strongest predictor of poor current sleep health independent of demographics, presence of a pre-existing condition, and time since infection.

Given that COVID-19 has infected millions of people worldwide, with growing evidence showing that those individuals may continue to show persistent post-COVID symptoms (long COVID), the study recommends that clinicians and researchers should assess sleep health in COVID-19 survivors and investigate long-term associations with their mental and physical health, as well as potential benefits of improving sleep in this population.

Access the full paper published in the journal Sleep Medicine  here.