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Insomnia and Burnout May Increase Odds of Severe COVID-19

More respondents with an infection reported daily burnout than those who did not have one.

Recent data published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health has demonstrated that those who experience disrupted sleep, daily burnout and insomnia are at an increased risk of becoming both infected with COVID-19 and progressing to a more severe stage of the disease.

The research was conducted by investigators from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

"Disruptions to the sleep-wake cycle can affect metabolic, immune and even psychological health," Minhaj Rajput-Ray, the Medical Director of NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition & Health said. "And sleep deprivation can make calorie dense foods, higher in fat, sugar and salt, more appealing, particularly during times of stress and/or difficult shift patterns, all of which takes a toll on overall health and wellbeing."

The international study was conducted on 2,884 healthcare workers who took an online survey. The participants were those who have been repeatedly exposed to patients with COVID-19 infection, such as those working in emergency or intensive care, and so at heightened risk of becoming infected themselves. 568 people in the group had an infection with COVID-19.

The survey took information such as lifestyle and health choices, prescription medications and dietary supplements, amount of sleep and if they have experienced any sleeping problems of burnout.

Findings from the study showed that the average number of hours of sleep per night was under 7. Every extra hour of sleep gained was associated with 12% lower odds of getting the virus. Roughly 1 in 4 of those with COVID-19 said they had trouble sleeping at night compared to 1 in 5 of those who did not have the disease.

1 in 20 of the respondents had 3 or more sleeping problems, including difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, or needing to use sleeping pills on 3 or more nights of the week. 88% of those with 3 or more problems had greater odds of contracting the virus.

"We found that lack of sleep at night, severe sleep problems and high level of burnout may be risk factors for COVID-19 in frontline healthcare workers,” the authors wrote. “Our results highlight the importance of healthcare professionals' well-being during the pandemic."