COVID-19 Symptoms: Insomnia
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- COVID-19 can cause insomnia, which can affect the metabolism, immunity, and quality of life.
- Long COVID insomnia has also been reported, which may contribute to the brain fog that you may experience after a COVID-19 infection.
- Several treatment options exist for post COVID insomnia.
COVID-19 and insomnia have been the topic of many studies, as several COVID patients experience sleep disturbances, which have an impact on their health and quality of life. This article will guide you through the link between insomnia and COVID-19, the possible duration of this symptom, and the available treatment options.
Is insomnia a symptom of COVID?
COVID-19 can cause insomnia, which is a common sleep disturbance that makes it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. People with insomnia often wake up early in the mornings and suffer from a lack of sleep, which may make it difficult to function throughout the day.
Insomnia and COVID have been the subject of many studies, with a recent study concluding that 52% of those infected with COVID-19 were affected by sleep disturbances such as insomnia. This could be explained in various ways:1 2 3
- Some of the main symptoms that the disease usually causes are cough, fever, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can cause disruptions in the sleep cycle because of their characteristics, but also as a result of the pain they cause and the side effects of used medications.
- COVID insomnia could also be explained by the fact that the coronavirus can also impact the areas of the brain that control wake and sleep states.
- Insomnia with COVID can also be explained through the psychological impact that the condition has. Stress and anxiety tied to the infection, the shift in daily routines due to the pandemic, as well as concerns about the progression of the disease may make sleep more elusive.
On the other hand, insomnia and COVID may also be linked in another way, as a study in the British Medical Journal suggests that insomnia, disrupted sleep, and daily burnout are linked to an increased risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus and having more severe disease combined with a longer recovery period. This can be explained by the fact that a disrupted sleep-wake cycle can affect metabolism and immunity.4
Can you get insomnia post COVID?
Insomnia is often present with long COVID. This is the continuation or development of symptoms after being infected with the virus. These symptoms may persist for at least 2 months longer. About 1 in 13 people who get COVID-19 experience long COVID. Multiple studies suggest that people with long-COVID sleep less. This goes both for light and deep sleep. The loss of deep sleep is especially a cause of concern, as this may cause an overall tired feeling, as well as concentration and memory issues.
This way, insomnia after COVID may also be partly responsible for the commonly reported brain fog during and after COVID. Apart from that, a lack of sleep can also debilitate the immune system, which is an essential defense of our body against intruders such as viruses and bacteria.5 2
How long does post COVID insomnia last?
The duration of COVID insomnia can vary greatly, with some cases only lasting a couple of days throughout or after the infection. In other cases, insomnia can persist and can cause long-term sleeping problems, which should be addressed accordingly with measures that improve your quality of sleep again.
How to treat insomnia after COVID
It’s crucial to treat your COVID insomnia, as a disturbed sleep cycle can affect both your physical and mental health negatively. There are a few measures that you can take to improve your sleep. These include:6
- Maintaining a good sleep rhythm by going to bed and waking up around the same time every day
- Destressing and making sure not to think about stressful things right before going to bed
- Going to bed and getting up when you naturally feel inclined to do so
- Avoid using your bed to work, eat, or watch TV
- Try to keep your bedroom as dark as possible to reduce sleep disruption
- Exercise regularly during the daytime
- Avoid eating close to bedtime
Besides these techniques, there are also treatment options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which you may be able to access through your doctor.
COVID insomnia can be a possible symptom during and after an infection with the coronavirus. It’s important to treat insomnia from COVID-19, as a long-term lack of sleep can have a negative effect on your health by debilitating your immune system and metabolism. Luckily, there are several measures which you can take at home to improve your sleep cycle.
Q: Is insomnia a COVID symptom?
A: People who have been infected with the coronavirus have a high chance of having insomnia during or after their infection. Studies even suggest that up to 52% of people who have had COVID struggle with a sleep disturbance such as insomnia.
Q: Is sleeplessness a symptom of long COVID?
A: Sleeplessness can be a symptom of long COVID as COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath can cause disturbances in your sleep cycle. On top of that, the stress related to COVID can also cause a lack of sleep.
Q: Why does COVID cause insomnia?
A: COVID can cause insomnia as some COVID-19 symptoms can cause disturbance, which can keep you up at night. Other than that, worrying about your health can also contribute to a lack of sleep. Studies also suggest that the coronavirus can infect parts of the brain as well, which are essential for the sleep-wake cycle.
Q: Is there a COVID insomnia treatment available?
A: You can improve your sleep at home by going to bed and waking up at consistent hours, sleeping in a dark room, and not using your bed to work or watch TV. If these don’t offer you a solution, then your doctor may recommend treatment options such as cognitive behavioral therapy.