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Mild Covid-19 infections make insomnia more likely, especially in people with anxiety or depression

Although most patients diagnosed with Covid-19 recover quickly, some people experience symptoms that persist long after they start testing negative again, including insomnia. Scientists already knew that insomnia was common in patients who had to be hospitalized, but a team of scientists led by Dr. Huong TX Hoang of Phenikaa University, Vietnam, began to wonder if mild infections could also affect the quality of sleep. dream.

“As a sleep researcher, I received many questions and complaints from family, friends and colleagues about their sleep disturbances after recovering from Covid-19,” said Hoang, lead author of the paper published in Frontiers in public health. “I found that most of the articles focused on hospitalized patients. “Their treatment and quarantine environment would be very different from those with milder symptoms.”

Link illness and insomnia

Using Vietnam’s official Covid-19 survivor network, scientists recruited 1,056 people over the age of 18 who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 but not hospitalized in the past six months and who reported no history of insomnia or psychiatric conditions. They sent a survey to these people to complete between June and September 2022.

The survey asked about sociodemographic characteristics such as age, sex and chronic conditions, and the duration and severity of patients’ Covid-19 infection. It also measured the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression experienced by the patients. To investigate levels of insomnia, patients were asked to compare how well they slept, how long they slept and how easy it was to fall asleep in the last two weeks, compared to before contracting Covid-19.

76% of patients report insomnia.

76.1% of participants reported experiencing insomnia: 22.8% of these people reported severe insomnia. Half of the participants said they woke up more frequently during the night, while a third said they found it harder to fall asleep, slept worse, and slept for less time. The severity of their initial infection did not appear to correlate with the severity of the insomnia they experienced. Although asymptomatic Covid-19 patients had lower scores on the insomnia index, the difference was not statistically significant.

“If you experience insomnia after Covid-19, don’t think it’s normal,” Hoang said. “If insomnia doesn’t bother you much, you can take some simple measures, such as: taking a hot shower before bed, turning off your phone at least an hour before bed, exercising 30 minutes a day, and avoiding caffeine. after 4pm. In case insomnia really bothers you, you can try some over-the-counter sleep aids. If they don’t help you, go to a sleep therapist.”

Two groups of people had statistically significant higher rates of insomnia. These were people who had a pre-existing chronic illness and people with high scores on depressive or anxious symptoms. Both groups developed insomnia at a higher rate than their peers. When the scientists looked at patients who reported insomnia, their depression and anxiety scores were higher than the average scores for the entire sample.

However, these diseases are not completely independent of each other. Insomnia can worsen physical and mental health, as well as being driven by poorer physical and mental health.

Holistic approaches needed

The scientists noted that the rate of insomnia reported by patients is not only much higher than the rate among the general population, but also higher than that reported by patients hospitalized with Covid-19. This could be partly because they focused on recently recovered patients who may have persistent symptoms. Newly recovered patients may also be more stressed and sensitive to changes in their physical health, leading them to perceive their sleep to be worse.

The scientists emphasized that a holistic approach is needed to address all factors that contribute to insomnia and that further research is needed into the relationship between Covid-19, mental health problems and insomnia.

“Since this is a cross-sectional study, the relationship between anxiety and depression and insomnia cannot be fully investigated,” Hoang cautioned. “In addition, online data collection and a convenience sampling method can cause recall and selection biases. However, due to the situation in Vietnam at that time, data collection through electronic invitation and convenience sampling was the most efficient and feasible strategy.”

The material in this press release comes from the original research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. They want more? Sign up to receive our daily email.

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