Sleep Troubles Common for Folks With Long COVID

Cara Murez

Cara Murez

Published on April 07, 2023

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Key Takeaways

Four out of 10 long-COVID patients count sleep problems among their symptoms

Black adults are especially vulnerable to these sleep disturbances

Moderate or severe fatigue was also reported by about 90% of patients with lingering complaints

FRIDAY, April 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Four out of 10 people who have lingering health issues after COVID-19 infection can count bothersome sleep problems among them.

About 41% of those with so-called long COVID have moderate to severe sleep issues, according to new research from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Black patients are three times more likely to develop these sleep disturbances.

“Sleep difficulties and fatigue are widely reported by people with long COVID, but little is known about the severity and factors associated with these symptoms,” said lead author Dr. Cinthya Pena Orbea, assistant professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center.

“Our findings not only emphasize the importance of identification of sleep disturbance in long COVID considering its impact on patients’ quality of life, daytime functioning and medical health status, but they also draw the attention to the persistent inequities seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pena Orbea said in a clinic news release.

Risk factors for these lingering sleep disturbances include race, hospitalization for COVID-19, and greater severity of anxiety and fatigue, she and her colleagues found.

The researchers analyzed data collected from 962 long-COVID patients who were treated at Cleveland Clinic’s reCOVer Clinic between February 2021 and April 2022. The patients, all adults, completed sleep disturbance and fatigue questionnaires.

Among the other findings:

About 67% reported moderate to severe fatigue. About 22% reported severe fatigue.

More than half of the patients, 58%, said they had normal to mild sleep disturbances.

“There is an unmet need to understand the neurobiological mechanisms or pathways behind the association of sleep disturbances with long COVID," said co-author Dr. Reena Mehra, director of sleep disorders research at Cleveland Clinic.

In addition, the increased vulnerability of long COVID-related sleep disturbances in the Black population needs further study "so that we can develop race-specific interventions to overcome disparities," Mehra said in the release.

Study findings were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on long COVID.

SOURCE: Cleveland Clinic, news release, April 5, 2023

What This Means for You

The findings draw attention to persistent racial disparities evident throughout the pandemic.

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