It’s not clear why insomnia and burnout are linked to increased COVID severity, however researchers hypothesized that lack of sleep and sleep disorders may adversely influence the immune system by increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines and histamines, which could in turn increase disease severity.

They also pointed to studies linking burnout to a heightened risk of colds and flu as well as long term conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disease and death from all causes. Such studies have suggested that burnout may directly or indirectly predict illnesses by occupational stress impairing the immune system and changing cortisol levels.

Minha Rajput-Ray, medical director of NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition & Health, which co-owns the journal Nutrition Prevention & Health with BMJ, said: “This study spotlights an often neglected area of wellbeing: the need for quality sleep and re-charge time to prevent burnout and its consequences.

“A better understanding of the effects of shift work and sleep is essential for the well-being of healthcare staff and other key workers.

“Disruptions to the sleep-wake cycle can affect metabolic, immune and even psychological health. 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 well-being.”

This story originally appeared in HuffPost UK.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations.

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