Want to Lower Your Odds for Long COVID? Get More Sleep

MONDAY, Oct. 9, 2023 (HealthDay News) – One way to help lower the odds for long COVID in people with pre-existing conditions may be to get more sleep.

A new study discovered the risk was lower in those who slept six to nine hours a night compared to "short sleepers" who snoozed less.

“Habitual short nighttime sleep duration exacerbated the risk of long COVID in individuals with pre-existing conditions,” said senior study author Dr. Frances Chung, chair of anesthesia, sleep and perioperative medicine research at Toronto's University Health Network. “Based on its proven adjuvant role in immunity, habitual sleep duration may alter the risk for developing long COVID.”

The odds for long COVID were three times higher in people with pre-existing conditions who slept fewer than six hours per night than in those without pre-existing conditions who slept six to nine hours, an average level.

But in folks with pre-existing conditions who hit that average sleep time, the long COVID risk was only 1.8 times higher than for those with no health conditions.

In long COVID, symptoms linger after the infection passes. They can include fatigue, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, sleep problems and difficulty thinking or concentrating, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To study the impact of sleep on long COVID risk, researchers analyzed data from an online survey of more than 13,000 adults from 16 countries.

Participants reported how many hours per night they slept. on average.

More than 2,500 reported testing positive for COVID infection, while 20% reported having at least one long COVID symptom. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines long COVID as having at least one symptom lasting more than three months.

Of 1,500 participants with long COVID who also reported their sleep and pre-existing condition status, 945 said they had pre-existing conditions. About 8% were short sleepers.

“Restoring nighttime sleep to average duration represents a potentially modifiable behavioral factor to lower the odds of long COVID for at-risk patients,” Chung said.

The study was published Oct. 3 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on long COVID.


SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, Oct. 4, 2023

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