As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our lives, we are learning more about the wide range of symptoms it can cause. Beyond the hallmark signs of infection, some individuals experience disrupted sleep patterns during and after the illness. In this blog post, we will explore the reasons behind the impact of COVID-19 on sleep and provide tips for getting enough rest during this challenging time.
Biological Implications from COVID-19
Research suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can enter the hypothalamus, a vital part of the brain responsible for regulating sleep. As the virus causes inflammation in the body, it can impair the functioning of various systems, including sleep regulation. This means that even if individuals spend enough time in bed, they may not be able to achieve deep and restorative sleep.
Aside from the biological factors, the psychological strain of having COVID-19 can also disrupt sleep patterns. Feelings of anxiety, fear, and isolation can leave individuals restless and unable to achieve a sound sleep state. Coping with the mental health challenges associated with the illness can further exacerbate sleep disturbances.
Physical Symptoms and Circadian Rhythm Disruption
The symptoms of COVID-19 itself, such as a persistent cough and body aches, can interfere with sleep. Some individuals may experience increased sleep duration as the body conserves energy during the acute phase of the infection. However, this disrupted equilibrium can lead to long stretches of sleep or persistent fatigue even after recovering from the virus.
Long COVID-19 and Sleep
Even after COVID-19 has run its course and individuals test negative, sleep disruptions can persist. Studies have found that a significant number of individuals with long COVID experience moderate to severe sleep disturbances. These ongoing sleep issues may be related to lingering inflammation in the brain, body pain, and the development of anxiety and depression post-infection.
Tips for Better Sleep
- Maintain good sleep hygiene: Ensure your sleeping environment is dark, cool, and comfortable. Avoid consuming alcohol close to bedtime, as it can interfere with sleep quality.
- Create a soothing evening routine: If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, consider moving to a different part of the room or engaging in a calming, screen-free activity like reading, knitting, or listening to peaceful music or podcasts for 15 minutes.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for insomnia: Consider seeking professional help for CBT, a structured therapy that can effectively address sleep problems. Online tools like Insomnia Coach, a free app from the Department of Veterans Affairs, can also be useful.
- Medication options: In some cases, low doses of antidepressants may be prescribed to alleviate persistent sleep issues. However, consult with a healthcare provider before starting any medication.
- Screen for sleep apnea: If you consistently struggle with sleep during or after a COVID-19 infection, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. They may recommend a sleep apnea screening to address any underlying respiratory conditions that could be contributing to your sleep disruptions.
Sleep disturbances are not uncommon during and after a COVID-19 infection. Understanding the multiple factors that contribute to these disruptions can help individuals proactively address their sleep issues. By practicing good sleep hygiene, seeking professional guidance, and exploring available resources, individuals can optimize their sleep and support their overall well-being during this challenging time.
Remember, restful nights are crucial for recovery and managing long-term symptoms of COVID-19. If you’re struggling with sleep, don’t hesitate to reach out to Fast Labs for fast and efficient COVID-19 testing services, including at-home Rapid Antigen and PCR tests. Prioritizing your health and well-being is essential in navigating these uncertain times.
Yes, the virus can enter the hypothalamus and disrupt sleep regulation.
Yes, the psychological strain of COVID-19 can lead to restlessness and poor sleep quality.
Sleep disturbances can persist for a significant period in some individuals, especially those with long COVID.
Yes, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia has shown promising results.
It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider, especially if sleep disturbances persist or significantly impact daily functioning.