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Sleepless After COVID-19: Lasting Impact on Brain and Mind

written by / April 23, 2021
Sleepless After COVID-19: Lasting Impact on Brain and Mind

By now, most are fully aware that COVID-19 is not merely a respiratory viral infection. About one-quarter of those who get sick experience neurological symptoms in addition to the well-known flu-like symptoms.

But the loss of smell and taste, headaches, dizziness, and brain fog are not the only effects that this “coronavirus” has on our brain’s health and performance. 

A new Oxford study found out that 34% of those who recover from COVID-19 develop neurological and psychological conditions within the first six months.

The study, involving over 230,000 COVID-19 patients, showed that insomnia, anxiety (17%), and mood disorders (14%) are the most frequent post-infection diagnosis.

Luckily, neurological consequences like stroke, dementia, and others are less frequent. Nonetheless, they are more present in former corona patients than in the general population.

That said, the reasons behind these “long haulers” are not yet known. What’s even more confusing is that the severity of the infection has little to do with the risk of developing them.

26% of those that overcame COVID-19 have sleeping issues like insomnia and sleep apnea. COVID-19-induced insomnia is sometimes caused by anxiety and fear of falling asleep due to a “feeling of drowning” or the fear of stopping breathing.

Those with post-COVID-19 sleep apnea keep waking up due to oxygen saturation drop. According to health professionals, this can be caused by incurred neurological abnormalities in their breathing control center.  

These sleep disturbances can lead to other severe conditions. For example, people with insomnia have a 28% higher risk of developing diabetes. Furthermore, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure — a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

Sleep apnea patients can benefit from CPAP machines to prevent drops in oxygen saturation. In any case, post-COVID-19 recovery centers are being constructed worldwide to answer the coronavirus survivors’ specific health needs.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”

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