How to Sleep with COVID-19

How to Sleep with COVID-19
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Published ilm_admin ⋅ Review Editor
November 6, 2023

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges to daily life, and one major aspect of life that has been affected is sleep. As the virus continues to have a significant impact on physical and mental health, it’s crucial to understand how it affects our sleep and what we can do to maintain good sleep quality during these trying times. COVID-19 can directly impact sleep through various symptoms, such as fever, cough, and breathing difficulties, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally, increased stress, anxiety, and the shift to remote work can disturb our sleep patterns, leading to a decline in overall sleep quality. This, in turn, affects immunity and well-being, which are essential for overcoming the virus.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Covid-19 and Its Impact on Sleep

The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected the daily lives of people worldwide, including their sleep patterns. The virus itself, along with the stress and anxiety caused by living in a global crisis, has led to a variety of sleep disorders. Medical professionals have coined COVID-somnia or Coronasomnia to describe the sleep issues experienced by patients and the general population alike. It has been observed that around 52% of people with Covid-19 experience sleep problems. Coronasomnia can be a result of the infection itself or due to other pandemic-related reasons. People at a higher risk of Covid-related sleep disruptions include patients with Covid-19, healthcare workers, and children.

Sleep quality can be influenced by various factors related to the pandemic, such as social confinement due to national lockdowns or self-isolation, risk of exposure to the virus, and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. The ongoing uncertainty and constant exposure to pandemic-related news may lead to sleep disturbances, further exacerbating these symptoms. Given the impact of the pandemic on sleep, it is essential to address these sleep issues to maintain physical and emotional well-being. Establishing a regular bedtime routine, creating a calm and comfortable sleep environment, and limiting exposure to news and social media can help alleviate the effects of coronasomnia. Healthcare professionals and sleep specialists must stay updated as our scientific understanding of the impact of COVID-19 continues to evolve. This includes being informed about clinical sleep services and therapeutic recommendations being developed to better address persistent sleep issues in the aftermath of SARS-CoV-2 infection or pandemic-related traumatic experiences.

The Connection Between Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals have experienced increased stress and anxiety, which can have a significant impact on sleep quality. A disrupted sleep pattern may not only affect one’s mood but also contribute to a range of mental health problems.

Stress and anxiety are common factors that can contribute to sleep disturbances. The uncertainty and constant flow of information during the pandemic amplify these feelings, resulting in what is known as coronasomnia. This phenomenon shows that there is a strong connection between the mental health issues arising from the pandemic and difficulties in achieving restorative sleep. Anxiety disorders, worry, and depression can affect how well a person sleeps at night. Sleep disturbances are prevalent among individuals who have experienced the impact of COVID-19, including those with long COVID. Prolonged lack of sleep can, in turn, exacerbate symptoms of depression, grief, and mood swings, creating a vicious cycle.

To cope with increased stress and anxiety during this time, it is crucial to adopt a balanced thinking approach. For example, changing the thought, “I am all alone, and I am never going to get through this”, to “Many of us are facing similar difficulties, and we will get through this”, can help manage stress levels and improve sleep quality. Practising mindfulness and stress-reducing techniques can also be beneficial (source).

Effects of Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

Insomnia and sleep disorders have been increasingly associated with COVID-19. A significant percentage of people with COVID-19 have experienced sleep problems, such as insomnia and other sleep disorders [1]. Insomnia, sleep disturbances, sleep deprivation, poor sleep quality, sleep apnea, and altered dreams are some common issues faced by individuals affected.

  • Individuals with long COVID, which refers to symptoms persisting beyond the acute phase of the infection, often report sleep disturbances. Sleep disorders may occur due to direct infection-related factors or as a result of pandemic-related stress [2]. Healthcare workers and children have shown a higher risk of COVID-related sleep disruptions, affecting their overall well-being.
  • Insomnia often results in daytime sleepiness and may affect cognitive functions. Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk of neurological or psychiatric outcomes [3]. Moreover, sleep quality plays a vital role in one’s emotional and physical health. Poor sleep quality can impact immune function, mood, and overall performance during daytime activities.
  • Sleep apnea, another sleep disorder that causes breathing difficulties during sleep, has also seen pandemic-related considerations. Individuals with sleep apnea may require special attention regarding preventive measures and treatment for COVID-19 [4].
  • Research has indicated a possible link between COVID-19 and altered dreams, with many individuals experiencing vivid or unusual dreams during this period. Altered dreams may result from changes in sleep patterns, increased stress, or a direct effect of the virus on the nervous system [5].


  1. Sleep Foundation – COVID-19 and Sleep Issues ↩
  2. BBC – Coronavirus Doctor’s Diary ↩
  3. Sleep Foundation – New Research on Insomnia and COVID-19 ↩
  4. NCBI – Sleep Disorders and COVID-19 ↩
  5. Cleveland Clinic – Can COVID-19 Cause Insomnia? ↩

Impact of Covid-19 on Children’s Sleep

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on children’s sleep habits, affecting bedtime routines, sleep quality, and duration. Many factors contributed to this, including changes in daily routines, increased screen time, anxiety, and reduced physical activity.

  • One study found that 40.0% of parents perceived their child’s sleep as having worsened during the pandemic, attributing this to increased screen time, anxiety, and decreased exercise. The prevalence of sleep problems in children and adolescents during this period is considered alarming, with nearly half of healthy children not meeting sleep duration recommendations.
  • Pre-school children, on the other hand, experienced relatively fewer sleep disturbances due to home confinement measures compared to older children and adolescents, as observed in a study. This could be attributed to the fact that younger children had more time to adapt to a new routine and may have had less exposure to stressors and anxiety related to the pandemic.
  • Family routines went through significant alterations during the pandemic, which affected children’s sleep patterns. Some noted changes included increased sleep duration, late bedtimes, and poor sleep quality, as highlighted in a study. An important contributing factor is the anxiety and uncertainty experienced by children and their families, notably at the beginning of the lockdown.
  • Researchers observed an increase in children’s bedtime anxiety at the start of the lockdown, which subsequently ameliorated by August alongside their Covid-19-related anxiety. Bedtime anxiety contributed to difficulties in falling asleep at night for children during this period, according to a UK study.

To address these sleep disruptions, families should work on establishing consistent routines to promote healthy sleep patterns. This may involve setting regular sleep and wake times, encouraging physical activity, limiting screen time before bed, and practising relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety. Maintaining open communication with children regarding their concerns and feelings may also help alleviate their anxiety and promote better sleep.

Importance of Immunity in Overcoming Covid-19

The immune system protects our bodies from various infections, including the Covid-19 virus. A strong immune system can help fight off the virus more effectively, reducing the severity of symptoms and speeding up the recovery process. As the global Covid-19 pandemic continues, understanding the link between immunity and the virus has become increasingly vital.

A healthy sleep pattern is linked to a well-functioning immune system. Insufficient sleep or irregular sleep-wake cycles can weaken the immune system, increasing the vulnerability to viral infections. Sleep plays a direct role in maintaining immunity and regulating immunological markers and cells. Therefore, during the ongoing pandemic, sleep disturbances can negatively impact the immune system’s functionality. Aside from sleep, vaccines offer an essential line of defence in overcoming the Covid-19 virus. Vaccines work by training our immune systems to recognise the virus and mount a swift and effective response if exposed in the future. Therefore, a strong immune system is vital for vaccines to work efficiently. Focusing on immunity becomes even more crucial in the context of new virus variants. As the virus mutates, our immune systems must evolve and respond to these changes. By maintaining a strong and adaptable immune system, we can help prevent widespread infections and provide a more robust response to vaccination efforts.

Role of Sleep Hygiene During Covid-19

Maintaining good sleep hygiene is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is critical in supporting the immune system and reducing the risk of infection. Adequate sleep can improve mood, productivity, and overall health during these challenging times. Conversely, sleep deprivation weakens the body’s defence system, making people more vulnerable to contracting the virus, and it can have a negative impact on mental well-being. To foster healthy sleep patterns, an individual should create a personalised sleep profile, which encompasses their unique sleep requirements, habits, and preferences. A Sleep Foundation score can be a useful tool in understanding and assessing one’s sleep quality.

Several key steps can improve sleep hygiene during the pandemic:

  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day, even on weekends, to regulate your body’s internal clock.
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment: Make the bedroom a calm and comfortable space by reducing noise, using blackout curtains to block light, and maintaining a comfortable temperature.
  • Limit screen time before bed: Exposure to blue light from electronic devices can disrupt sleep patterns, so avoid using smartphones, tablets, and computers close to bedtime.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques: Engage in activities that promote relaxation before bedtime, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity: Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, but try to schedule workouts earlier in the day to avoid potential sleep disruptions.

The Significance of a Sleep Schedule

A consistent sleep schedule is crucial for maintaining good health and well-being, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. While 52% of people with COVID-19 experienced sleep problems, establishing a sleep schedule can help to combat these disruptions.

  • Adhering to a regular sleep schedule assists in regulating one’s circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock that controls daily bodily functions, including sleep and wake cycles. Our circadian rhythms are influenced by exposure to light, which can either help or hinder our ability to fall asleep and wake up at the desired times. Consistency in sleep and wake times allows our bodies to naturally sync with these circadian rhythms, promoting restorative sleep and daytime alertness.
  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can benefit those experiencing sleep problems due to COVID-19 in several ways. Firstly, it can help to reduce sleep disruption caused by environmental factors, such as changes in routine due to lockdowns or working from home. Additionally, adhering to a sleep schedule can provide structure, which helps to tease apart work or family stressors from the dedicated time to rest.
  • Moreover, sleep is essential for supporting a strong immune system, which is especially significant when combatting a viral infection like COVID-19. Ensuring that one gets enough sleep each night can positively impact the recovery process, as well as provide essential support for brain function and emotional well-being.

Coping Mechanisms for Sleep Problems During COVID-19

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals have experienced difficulty sleeping. It is essential to find effective coping mechanisms to ensure a restful night’s sleep. Here are some helpful strategies to improve your sleep during these challenging times.

  • Firstly, establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Engage in activities that help you unwind and prepare your body for sleep, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath or listening to calming music. Limit exposure to screens before bedtime, as the blue light emitted from devices can interfere with your natural sleep cycle.
  • Consider implementing sleep solutions like creating a comfortable sleep environment. This may include investing in a supportive mattress, using blackout curtains, and keeping the bedroom cool and quiet. It is also beneficial to maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Tracking your sleep patterns with a sleep diary can be insightful in identifying trends and potential triggers for sleep disturbances. By jotting down information like bedtime, wake-up time, and details about your sleep quality, you can adjust your routine accordingly to promote better sleep.
  • Some individuals may find relief from sleep issues through cannabinoid use. Although research is still limited, low doses of cannabinoids like CBD oil have been reported to improve sleep quality for some people. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional before using cannabinoids for sleep, as they may not be suitable for everyone.

Covid-19, Isolation, and Their Impact on Sleep

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to widespread changes in our daily lives, including sleep routines. National lockdowns, social isolation, and social distancing have become an essential part of controlling the spread of the virus. These measures, though necessary, have had significant consequences on sleep quality and mental health.

During isolation, people might experience sleep disruptions due to stress, anxiety, and changes in daily routine. When the body does not get adequate sleep, individuals face energy loss, sleepiness, impaired concentration and memory, and mood disturbances. In the long term, insufficient sleep is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, a large number of Covid-19 patients have reported sleep issues. Approximately 52% of those infected experienced sleep problems, such as insomnia and restless sleep. This phenomenon, known as “coronasomnia”, can be caused by the virus or other pandemic-related factors. Healthcare workers and children are particularly vulnerable to Covid-related sleep disruptions.

To alleviate the impact of isolation and Covid-19 on sleep, individuals can adopt a few strategies:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time daily helps maintain the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a conducive sleep environment: A quiet, dark, and cool bedroom can enhance sleep quality.
  • Limit screen time before bedtime: Exposure to the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with producing the natural sleep hormone melatonin.
  • Stay active: Regular physical activity can promote better sleep at night.
  • Manage stress and anxiety: Practising mindfulness, relaxation techniques, or seeking professional help can help reduce these negative emotions affecting sleep.

The Issue of ‘Coronasomnia’ and How to Address It

Coronasomnia or Covid-somnia refers to sleep disturbances experienced by individuals due to the stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a tandem epidemic that affects people’s mental and physical well-being alongside the pandemic itself. Managing coronasomnia is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and improving the overall quality of life. Surveys have shown that about 52% of people with COVID-19 have experienced sleep disorders, with insomnia being the most common. Disrupted sleep can also be attributed to infections and the pandemic’s associated stressors (source). Healthcare workers and children are the most susceptible to pandemic-related sleep disruptions (source).

To address coronasomnia, here are some practical steps individuals can take:

  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule: Adhering to a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time daily helps regulate your body’s internal clock and improves sleep quality.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine: Engaging in relaxing activities, such as reading or taking a warm bath before bedtime, helps signal your brain that it’s time to sleep.
  • Limit screen time: Reducing exposure to screens, especially close to bedtime, mitigates the effects of the blue light emitted by digital devices, which can disrupt your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
  • Exercise regularly: Engaging in physical activities during the day can help relieve stress and improve sleep quality.
  • Maintain a sleep-friendly environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by adjusting the lighting, temperature, and noise levels.
  • Manage stress levels: Practising stress reduction techniques like mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing exercises can help alleviate anxiety and promote better sleep.

Importance of Sleep for Recuperation From Covid-19

Sleep plays a crucial role in aiding recuperation from illnesses, including Covid-19. A proper sleep schedule allows the body to focus on combating the virus by regulating various functions within the nervous system. Optimal sleep also helps improve brain function, regulate mood, and increase energy levels, ultimately improving overall productivity during the day.

Individuals recovering from COVID-19 may experience various symptoms that could affect their sleep patterns. Common long-term effects of the virus include fatigue, breathlessness, and dizziness. These persisting problems can make it difficult for the individual to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, leading to further issues in the recovery process. Addressing sleep disturbances during COVID-19 recovery is important for the physical and mental well-being of patients. Studies have shown that post-COVID-19 sleep disturbances are commonly reported during the recovery period and can have a significant impact on the quality of life. Therefore, proper management of these sleep problems is necessary, especially during this critical pandemic era.

In addition to its direct impact on recuperation, proper sleep has been linked to reduced cardiometabolic risk. Adequate sleep contributes to improved regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels. By maintaining a healthy sleep routine during COVID-19 recovery, patients can potentially minimise complications associated with the illness, particularly concerning cardiometabolic health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best position to sleep with a COVID cough?

Sleeping in a prone position (lying on your stomach) with your head and neck elevated can help improve breathing and reduce mucus pooling in the back of your throat. This can be achieved by using a few pillows or adding a proper neck pillow to your sleep setup.

How can I alleviate COVID congestion during sleep?

To alleviate congestion during sleep, it is recommended to elevate your head and neck, as mentioned above. In addition, using a humidifier in the bedroom can help to maintain air moisture and reduce congestion. Drinking plenty of water, tea or electrolyte drinks throughout the day can also aid in keeping the airways clear.

What remedies help in sleeping with COVID?

Natural remedies such as herbal tea, a warm bath, or relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or meditation can help promote relaxation and better sleep. It is essential to maintain consistency in your sleep schedule and create a calm and quiet environment for sleep.

Does COVID-19 affect sleep patterns?

Long COVID, a condition involving lingering symptoms after recovering from the acute phase of COVID-19, has been found to affect people’s sleep patterns ³. Some individuals may struggle to fall asleep, experience frequent awakenings at night, or wake up feeling unrested. It is essential to address these sleep disturbances for better recovery and overall well-being.

Is sleep crucial for COVID recovery?

Yes, sleep plays a vital role in COVID-19 recovery. Quality sleep supports the immune system, enhances the body’s ability to fight infections, and helps with emotional well-being ⁴. Therefore, establishing and maintaining a regular sleep schedule, along with other healthy habits, can contribute significantly to a better recovery from COVID-19.

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