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New study says insomnia is another issue for people with long COVID

Long COVID-19 may cause insomnia, resistant to treatment
Long COVID-19 may cause insomnia, resistant to treatment 02:19

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- March 17 is World Sleep Day. To underscore the importance of sleep and help those with serious sleep problems.

Millions of people suffer from insomnia, a new study says it's now emerged as another issue confronting patients with long COVID-19.

When Priya Mathew recovered from a mild case of COVID-19 in November, she thought she was out of the woods. Then came long COVID.

"At one point I counted 23 symptoms," Mathew said. "The most alarming ones were shortness of breath, labored breathing, heart palpitations."

One of the most crippling symptoms was insomnia.

"Nothing worked," Mathew said. "I would just lie awake in agony all night, it felt like electric shocks going through my body from my head down to my toes."

Doctors are seeing a trend: patients with long COVID have trouble sleeping and insomnia is often related to pain and is resistant to treatment.

"Pain which can occur at night as well and a lot of autonomic imbalance, autonomic impairment, which is the ability of our body to control heart rate and blood pressures," neurologist Dr. Emmanuel During said. "That can lead to episodes of palpitation, night sweats."

Even for those without long COVID, the pandemic has robbed Americans of their beauty rest.

In a 2022 survey, nearly a third said they'd experienced sleep disturbances since COVID began. That's down from 56% the year before, a phenomenon described as "COVID-somnia."


"I couldn't work for a month at least," Mathew said. "Any little task took way too much energy. Just taking a shower, I had to rest for three hours after that."

Doctors say it's critical to stick to your best sleep hygiene. Regular bedtimes and no screens late at night with the hope that as the pandemic fades, we'll all get the sleep that's so essential to our health.

Chronic insomnia has been linked to a variety of health issues including depression, obesity and cognitive decline.

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