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Papers of the Week

2022 Nov 18

J Sleep Res

The role of sleep and dreams in long-COVID.


Scarpelli S, De Santis A, Alfonsi V, Gorgoni M, Morin CM, Espie C, Merikanto I, Chung F, Penzel T, Bjorvatn B, Dauvilliers Y, Holzinger B, Wing YK, Partinen M, Plazzi G, De Gennaro L
J Sleep Res. 2022 Nov 18:e13789.
PMID: 36398720.


Recent investigations show that many people affected by SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) report persistent symptoms 2-3 months from the onset of the infection. Here, we report the Italian findings from the second International COVID-19 Sleep Study survey, aiming to investigate sleep and dream alterations in participants with post-acute symptoms, and identify the best determinants of these alterations among patients with long-COVID. Data from 383 participants who have had COVID-19 were collected through a web-survey (May-November 2021). Descriptive analyses were performed to outline the sociodemographic characteristics of long-COVID (N = 270, with at least two long-lasting symptoms) and short-COVID (N = 113, with none or one long-lasting symptom) participants. They were then compared concerning sleep and dream measures. We performed multiple linear regressions considering as dependent variables sleep and dream parameters discriminating the long-COVID group. Age, gender, work status, financial burden, COVID-19 severity and the level of care were significantly different between long-COVID and short-COVID subjects. The long-COVID group showed greater sleep alterations (sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, sleep inertia, naps, insomnia, sleep apnea, nightmares) compared with the short-COVID group. We also found that the number of long-COVID symptoms, psychological factors and age were the best explanatory variables of sleep and oneiric alterations. Our findings highlight that sleep alterations are part of the clinical presentation of the long-COVID syndrome. Moreover, psychological status and the number of post-acute symptoms should be considered as state-like variables modulating the sleep problems in long-COVID individuals. Finally, according to previous investigations, oneiric alterations are confirmed as a reliable mental health index.