May 31, 2023

Effect of healthy sleep on risk of long COVID

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study by Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, Boston, finds that healthy sleep before and during the COVID-19 pandemic was linked to a substantially decreased risk of long COVID.

A total of 1,979 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II were included in the analysis. A total of 870 (44%) reported long COVID symptoms.

Compared with women who had a prepandemic sleep score of 0 or 1 (least healthy), those who scored 5 (most healthy) had a 30% lower risk of developing long COVID, regardless of healthcare worker status.

No or little daytime dysfunction prepandemic and good sleep quality during the pandemic were independently linked to a lower risk of long COVID.

Results were similar when long COVID was defined as having 8 or more weeks of symptoms or having ongoing symptoms at the time of long COVID assessment.

The findings indicate that healthy sleep before and during the COVID-19 pandemic may be protective against long COVID. Further research should investigate whether sleep health interventions may prevent or improve symptoms of long COVID, the researchers conclude.

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