According to the results of a new survey given to Vietnamese patients and published in Frontiers in Public Health yesterday, 76% people who reported mild COVID-19 infections in the previous 6 months said they now experience insomnia, with 22.8% of those respondents saying their insomnia is severe.
The study was based on surveys given to 1,056 adults who had been diagnosed as having COVID-19 in the past 6 months. All study participants were reached through a national Vietnamese register of confirmed COVID cases. No one was hospitalized for their COVID infections, and participants reported no history of insomnia or psychiatric conditions.
Surveys on a range of symptoms following COVID-19 were completed from June to September 2022. In addition to demographic information, participants were asked about the duration and severity of COVID-19 infections, anxiety, depression, or stress symptoms.
Patients were also asked to compare how well they slept, how long they slept, and how easy it was to fall asleep in the previous 2 weeks, compared to before contracting COVID-19.
Worse sleep, including waking up often
Among the 76.1% who said they now experienced insomnia, half reported new and frequent episodes of waking up at night since contracting COVID-19. One-third said they experienced difficulty falling asleep.
The 76% figure is much higher than reports of insomnia among the general population, which is between 10% and 20%, the authors note.
The authors found no correlation between initial COVID symptom severity and insomnia. In fact, even people who reported asymptomatic COVID-19 infections reported subsequent insomnia. The researchers also found no correlation between COVID duration and insomnia.
If you experience insomnia after COVID-19, don't think that is normal.
Study participants who saw an increase in depressive or anxiety symptoms following COVID were most at risk for insomnia. Participants with high depression scores (odds ratio [OR], 3.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.87 to 6.34) or anxiety scores (OR, 3.93; 95% CI, 2.52 to 6.13) had more than triple the odds of developing insomnia.
Correlations between insomnia, depression, and anxiety were strong to moderate in the study, the authors said, suggesting a role for pharmacologic treatment of insomnia following COVID-19.
"Our findings add to current literature on insomnia after COVID-19 infection and underscores the crucial need to implement comprehensive interventions to address the psychological and sleep health of COVID-19 patients after recovery," the authors concluded.
In a Frontiers press release on the study, first author Huong T. X. Hoang, MD, of Phenikaa University, Vietnam, said the study confirmed what he had found anecdotally as a sleep researcher: More people reported insomnia after minor COVID-19 infections.
"I received many questions and complaints from relatives, friends, and colleagues about their sleep disturbances after recovering from COVID-19," said Hoang. "If you experience insomnia after COVID-19, don't think that is normal."