Around 40% of patients with long COVID have moderate to severe sleep issues, according to new analysis of patients treated at Cleveland Clinic’s ReCOver Clinic.
The report, published Tuesday in the journal of Internal Medicine, looked at the sleep patterns of 962 patients who had long COVID between February 2021 and April 2022.
More than half of the patients, 58%, reported normal to mild disturbances, while 41.3% indicated moderate to severe sleep disturbances.
Black patients were significantly more likely to have these disturbances, up to three times more than other races.
“Our findings not only emphasize the importance of identification of sleep disturbance in long COVID considering its impact on patients’ quality of life, daytime functioning and medical health status but they also draw the attention to the persistent inequities seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Pena Orbea in a statement.
Additionally, more than two-thirds of patients, 67.2%, reported moderate to severe fatigue, while 21.8% reported severe fatigue.
“There is an unmet need to understand the neurobiological mechanisms or pathways behind the association of sleep disturbances with long COVID and, per our findings, investigate the reasons for the increased vulnerability of PASC-related sleep disturbance in the Black population so that we can develop race-specific interventions to overcome disparities,” Dr. Reena Mehra, M.D., director of Sleep Disorders Research at Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the report, said in a statement.
The authors also highlighted that people who had greater anxiety severity were at higher risk of having sleep disturbances.
“In our practice, there has been kind of an unequal access to long COVID care, where individuals with inadequate insurance don’t tend to get referred to us as often… a lot of that falls under the lines of minority races…we need to be prepared to make sure that all patients, especially the most vulnerable, due to minority status, and socioeconomic status, they have access to the right physicians to provide the best clinical care for their post COVID complications” said Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., an assistant professor and physician in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“Any patients seeking good care for their long COVID needs to go to a multidisciplinary clinical setting,” he added.
Alaa Diab, MD, an internal medicine resident at Greater Baltimore Medical Center and MPH candidate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is a contributor to the ABC News Medical Unit.