Sleep and COVID-19 - What is coronasomnia? - Gevorest
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Sleep and COVID-19 – What is coronasomnia?

Sleep and COVID-19 – What is coronasomnia?

Even though it’s been almost 4 years since the COVID-19 pandemic, studies on its lasting effects are still ongoing. Some of these studies focus on the relationship between COVID-19 and sleep, specifically how COVID-19 affects the sleep of those people who have contracted the virus, but also how the quality of our sleep can affect our likelihood of getting sick.

Though sleep disorders are not considered an official symptom of COVID-19, an analysis of the data from various countries has shown that approximately 52% of people affected by COVID-19 have also presented some form of sleep disorder. This can be attributed to several factors, such as severe coughing or medication that may affect sleep. At the same time, lack of sleep can delay the body’s recovery process.

The term coronasomnia – a combination of the words coronavirus and insomnia – refers to this very relationship between sleep and the virus. It is a colloquial phrase rather than a medical or scientific term, but the problem it refers to is a very real one. It is mainly used to describe the sleep problems experienced by people who have been affected by COVID-19 (whether or not they contracted the virus), particularly during the ongoing pandemic. These problems may be attributed to isolation, stress, changes in routine, pandemic fatigue, and more.

Also under study is the relationship between poor sleep and long COVID. People who were severely ill are more likely to have long-lasting side effects, but even people who had mild symptoms can be affected by long COVID. Sleep problems have been reported by people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19, as well as by people who did not require hospitalization. In fact, one of the studies found that sleep issues were more common in people who were not hospitalized.

There are several ways that COVID-19 can affect our sleep. Some of these are:

  • Chronic insomnia: Oftentimes, insomnia is a sleep disorder that subsides after a few days or weeks. But if it is not treated in time, it can develop into a chronic problem, particularly for people who have contracted COVID-19 and have had their sleep affected.
  • Mental health problems: Sleep issues that may occur with COVID-19 can also lead to disturbances in mood and mental health, leading to further sleep disturbances.
  • Changes in sleep architecture: People with COVID-19 may spend less time in the deep sleep stage, resulting in the body feeling less refreshed and rested.
  • Disruptions in circadian rhythm: Circadian rhythm refers to the 24-hour cycle that regulates the body’s bodily functions, commonly known as our biological clock. According to some research, people suffering from long COVID often have difficulty falling asleep when they feel sleepy, a phenomenon that occurs when the body’s circadian rhythms are disrupted.
  • Other symptoms: The pain and difficulty breathing that some people with COVID-19 experience can also affect sleep quality. Long COVID sufferers who have persistent symptoms may have significant sleep complications.

According to a study conducted in Vietnam and published in Frontiers in Public Health in February 2024, 76% of patients who recovered from COVID-19 suffer from insomnia. Several of the participants reported reduced sleep quality, shorter sleep duration, and difficulty falling asleep, compared to the period before their illness.

These results are not particularly surprising, considering how our mental health affects our sleep and vice versa – our sleep also affects our mental health. Of course, there are various things we can try to do to remedy sleep disorders.

Some of these sleep solutions have been mentioned in our previous articles and include tried-and-tested tactics such as a consistent sleep routine, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption, creating the right sleep environment, relaxation tactics, and more. The important thing is to identify the problem so that we can implement the right solution to improve our sleep and, ultimately, our quality of life.