If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that you’ve had COVID-19, and you’re wondering whether it has anything to do with your lingering sleep problems.
Let’s unearth some facts to establish whether insomnia is indeed an aftermath of COVID-19 and find out what you can do to get your sleep back on track.
Long COVID and Sleep Problems
As the COVID-19 pandemic has gone on, experts have discovered many surprising facts about the disease, namely that it has atypical presentations and that it comes with what they refer to as post-COVID syndrome (also called long/ long-haul COVID).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, post-COVID syndrome refers to the “new, ongoing, or returning health problems people experience four or more weeks following the initial infection.” These conditions run the gamut—from headaches and mood changes, to fatigue and sleep problems.
So there you have it: your insomnia can be ascribed to your recent COVID-19 infection. However, it’s worth mentioning that insomnia in itself is a sleep disorder, which can be detrimental to both your health and quality of life. As such, it should not be considered “normal.” Your best course of action is to see a sleep medicine specialist for proper evaluation.
Insomnia Diagnosis and Treatment
In order to confirm a diagnosis, your sleep medicine specialist will first assess your medical history, and possibly, ask you about whether you’ve had COVID-19 recently. They may also perform a physical exam to check your heart, lungs, tonsils, and neck circumference to make sure these are healthy and not contributing to your sleep issues.
Your doctor will also order diagnostic tests, such as a sleep study. Also known as polysomnography, a sleep study is aimed at measuring data about your body during a complete night of sleep. A sleep study can be performed either at home or at a sleep center, where sleep technicians monitor you overnight.
With the results of their evaluation in hand, your sleep medicine doctor will craft an insomnia treatment plan, which may include any or a combination of the following approaches:
- Lifestyle Changes – What you do in your waking hours has a great impact on your ability to fall asleep and sleep through the night. Exercising regularly, eating meals on a regular schedule, and going to bed and waking up on a regular schedule are some of the ways you can improve your sleep hygiene.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) – Cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a form of talk therapy, encourages positive thinking around sleeping and decreases anxiety. When combined with relaxation or meditation therapy, it can help you feel calmer while trying to fall asleep.
- Medications and Supplements – Your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage your sleep problem.
Although there is limited research on its effectiveness, many people take melatonin supplements. These work by mimicking the mechanism of action of the natural sleep hormone melatonin, thereby helping regulate your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle).
Sleep Experts in Weatherford, TX
At Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas, Dr. Olusegun Oseni is a board-certified internal medicine physician specializing in pulmonology and sleep medicine. Hailed as last year’s top sleep medicine doctor by the 360 West Magazine, Dr. Oseni is renowned for his compassionate, unique, and holistic approach to care as well as for the effective solutions he offers. He provides on-site sleep studies as part of his commitment to making health care ultraconvenient for all of his patients.