PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — March 17 is World Sleep Day. To underline the importance of sleep and help people with serious sleep problems.

Millions of people suffer from insomnia, a new study says it has now emerged as another problem patients face long COVID-19.

When Priya Mathew recovered from a mild case of COVID-19 in November, she thought she was out of the woods. Then came long COVID.

“At one point I counted 23 symptoms,” Mathew said. “The most alarming were shortness of breath, labored breathing, palpitations.”

One of the most crippling symptoms was insomnia.

“Nothing worked,” Mathew said. “I lay awake all night in pain, it felt like electric shocks went through my body from my head to my toes.”

Doctors are seeing a trend: patients with long-term COVID have trouble sleeping and insomnia is often related to pain and resistant to treatment.

“Pain that can also occur at night and a lot of autonomic imbalance, autonomic dysfunction, which is our body’s ability to control heart rate and blood pressure,” said neurologist Dr. Emmanuel While. “That can lead to episodes of palpitations, night sweats.”

Even for those without long COVID, the pandemic has robbed Americans of their beauty rest.

In a 2022 survey, nearly a third said they had experienced sleep disturbances since the onset of COVID. That’s down from 56% the year before, a phenomenon described as “COVID somnia.”


“I couldn’t work for at least a month,” Mathew said. “Every little task took way too much energy. Just a shower, then I had to rest for three hours.”

Doctors say it’s critical to stick to your best sleep hygiene. Regular bedtimes and no screens late at night in the hope that as the pandemic fades, we all get the sleep that is so vital to our health.

Chronic insomnia has been linked to a variety of health problems, including depression, obesity and cognitive decline.

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