Healthy sleep may lower risk of Long Covid

A new study published in JAMA suggests that individuals who have healthy sleep patterns both before and after contracting COVID-19 may have a lower risk of developing long COVID. Long COVID refers to the persistence of certain COVID-19 symptoms for over four weeks after testing negative for the virus. The condition can include symptoms such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, persistent cough, and brain fog, and affects anywhere between 20% to 70% of people.

Sleep issues also have a high prevalence worldwide, with one in three people struggling with poor quality sleep and sleep disorders that can lead to long-term physical and/or psychiatric issues. Prior studies have linked poor sleep patterns to severe COVID-19 outcomes like hospitalization and mortality.

The study used data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which included over 32,000 participants, to measure each participant’s sleep health before and during the pandemic. Participants were asked to rate the severity of their sleep issues, and researchers also took into account if they experienced fatigue or concentration issues during the day.

Of the participants, 2,303 tested positive for COVID-19, with 870 reporting long COVID symptoms. The study found that participants who had a healthier pre-pandemic sleep score were less likely to develop long COVID. The study also found that daytime dysfunction before the pandemic and sleep quality during the pandemic were associated with a higher risk of developing long COVID. However, surprisingly, sleep duration was not found to be significantly associated with long COVID risk.

The researchers suggest that improving sleep health may prevent or alleviate long COVID symptoms and recommend further research into the topic. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded both the severity of pre-existing sleep disorders and the high prevalence of sleep disturbances, which have been linked to chronic low-grade inflammation and immune aberrations implicated in post-viral fatigue syndrome.


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