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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 ( In an interview with Mary Louise Kelly from NPR (, 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:



Arielle Snow, M.A., Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Hofstra University



What Is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of treatment that is based firmly on research findings.  It places emphasis on changing your cognitions (thoughts) or behaviors (actions) in order to effect change in how you feel. These approaches help people in achieving specific changes or goals.

Changes or goals might involve:

A way of acting: like smoking less or being more outgoing;
A way of feeling: like helping a person to be less scared, less depressed, or less anxious;
A way of thinking: like learning to problem-solve or get rid of self-defeating thoughts;
A way of dealing with physical or medical problems: like reducing back pain or helping a person stick to a doctor’s suggestions.

Cognitive behavioral therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life. CBT is an effective treatment for individuals, parents, children, couples, and families. The goal of CBT is to help people improve and gain more control over their lives by changing behaviors that don’t work well to ones that do.

How to Get Help

If you are looking for help, either for yourself or someone else, you may be tempted to call someone who advertises in a local publication or who comes up from a search of the Internet. You may, or may not, find a competent therapist in this manner. It is wise to check on the credentials of a psychotherapist. It is expected that competent therapists hold advanced academic degrees. They should be listed as members of professional organizations, such as the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association. Of course, they should be licensed to practice in your state. You can find competent specialists who are affiliated with local universities or mental health facilities or who are listed on the websites of professional organizations. You may, of course, visit our website ( and click on “Find a CBT Therapist”

The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an interdisciplinary organization committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioral, cognitive, and other evidence-based principles to assessment, prevention, and treatment.

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