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Sleep Disturbances and COVID
Sleep Disturbances During and Post-COVID-19 Infection
Research journalist Emily Sohn recently wrote a piece titled “COVID-19 Can Ruin Your Sleep in Many Different Ways – Here’s Why” for National Geographic (https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/science-and-technology/2022/11/covid-19-can-ruin-your-sleep-in-many-different-ways-heres-why). In an interview with Mary Louise Kelly from NPR (https://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/2022-12-05/covid-might-cause-sleep-troubles-that-can-last-even-after-the-infection-passes), Sohn explained that sleep issues, including onset of sleep apnea, wild and vivid dreams, excessive time sleeping, restless sleep, and feeling more tired during and post- infection, may persist post-infection of COVID-19. Sohn discusses a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, which found that more than one-third of individuals experiencing long COVID reported sleep disturbances for up to six months post-infection. Of these sleep issues, she informs listeners that insomnia is the most reported issue.
According to Sohn, the cause of these sleep disturbances associated with COVID-19 remains undetermined, but previous research has found that when people begin to feel sick they sleep more, but as symptoms develop they sleep less. Once symptomatic, people may spend more time in bed, but are waking up more frequently and achieve less sleep.
CBT for Insomnia and Other Sleep Disturbances
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidenced-based treatment that can help alleviate symptoms of insomnia and other sleep disturbances. Sohn suggests CBT strategies, such as sleep routine, going to bed at the same time each day, discontinuing screen use before bed, and physical activity during the day, can help. Other strategies involved in CBT for insomnia and sleep disturbances may include other behavioral sleep recommendations, relaxation, sleep tracking, and cognitive strategies to address psychological barriers to sleep.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing sleep disturbances, you can use ABCT’s find a therapist feature to find a CBT clinician: https://services.abct.org/find-a-therapist/.
Arielle Snow, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Hofstra University