Without a shadow of a doubt, the coronavirus, i.e. COVID-19 virus can have an enormous neurological and psychiatric impact on its survivors. To be more precise, a study of more than 235,000 American patients found that one in three COVID-19 survivors developed and were diagnosed with either a brain or psychiatric disorder within half a year.
The study included people of different ages (26 – 65 years old), sexes (male – 40 %, female - 55.6 %, other – 0.4 %), race (white – 57.2 %, black/ African-American – 18.8 %, other – 20.3 %), and ethnicity (Hispanic or Latino – 16 %, not Hispanic or Latino – 56.7 %, and other – 27.3 %).
The Study Findings
In fact, the scientists who conducted the study haven’t found how exactly the virus is connected to a psychiatric and neurological condition. However, they’ve proven that the disorders are far more common in COVID-19 survivors when compared to people who recovered from other respiratory infections in the same period.
Furthermore, the same study showed an estimated incidence of 14 post-COVID neurological and psychiatric outcomes within six months of being diagnosed with COVID-19. Some of these outcomes included stroke, brain hemorrhage, mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, muscle disease, dementia, etc.
Insomnia in COVID-19 Survivors
Still, the most common neurological and psychiatric disorders in COVID-19 recovered patients were anxiety, depression, and insomnia. The numbers show that 34 % of COVID survivors developed at least one of the 14 most common conditions, whereas 5.4 % of all patients developed insomnia. What’s more, the severer the COVID-19 impact, the higher risk of insomnia.
That said, 5.2 % of patients who weren’t hospitalized developed insomnia, but the number goes up quickly upon hospitalization to 6 % and then jumps to 7.5 % and 10 % for patients taken care of at the Intensive Therapy Unit and encephalopathy patients. This escalation in insomnia incidence with COVID-19 severity was found in all patients regardless of the psychiatric or neurological outcomes.
Researchers think that one potential reason for developing neurological conditions is that the virus attacks the central nervous system, blood clotting, and the entire immune system which is key to fighting against viruses. The bottom line, COVID-19 can increase the risks for the above-mentioned diagnoses, and even though it may appear to be a small risk, as it spreads across the entire population, it becomes massive.
What is Insomnia?
Now that you understand the link between COVID-19 and insomnia, let’s have a deeper look at this sleep disorder, its causes, and its symptoms.
A common sleep disorder characterized by having difficulty falling and stay asleep or wake up too early and not be able to fall back to sleep is called insomnia. As a result, people lack sleep which reduces not only energy levels and mood but also performance and quality of life.
Some common symptoms of insomnia include:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Frequent night arousals
- Waking up way too early
- Daytime fatigue, tiredness, and sleepiness
- Depression or anxiety
- Memory and concentration issues
- Increased errors
Although insomnia may be the primary issue, it may sometimes be connected to other conditions or circumstances including:
- Work schedule
- Travel schedule
- Poor sleep habits
- Poor diet habits
- Mental health disorders
- Sleep-related disorders