Sleep Science Friday: COVID-19 Related Sleep Disorders and the Lancet 2020 Round-up

Sleep Science Friday

08 January 2021

Happy new year! It’s the end of the first full week of 2021 grab a drink and end your week with a quick recap of Sleep Science News!

To kick off the new year, we are looking back at 2020. The headliner is none other than COVID-19 and how it effects our sleep even in the absence of a positive test for the virus. As many countries in Europe are gearing up for a continued lockdown or higher restrictions on activitiy, socialisation and movement, we cannot overlook the effects of these measures on other aspects of daily life, including mental health and sleep.

Sleep research in 2020: COVID-19-related sleep disorders

This week we saw the publication of the Lancet Neurology`s 2020 Round-up which included a focus on sleep research.  The piece titled, Sleep research in 2020: COVID-19-related sleep disorders highlights some of the global research on the topic. This article examines studies conducted throughout the pandemic.  In Italy, anxiety related to COVID-19 was highly associated with disturbed sleep. Moreover,  a European task force found that symptoms of insomnia could be related to psychosocial factors and to confinement. The hypothesis is that fatigue, sleepiness, and REM sleep behaviour disorder might be related to SARS-CoV-2 infection per se, whereas insomnia might be related mainly to confinement, anxiety, and other psychosocial factors. The referenced article was published in the JSR and is worth a read, especially if you are interested in stress-sleep link and confinement as well as instruction on effective insomnia treatment. The JSR virtual issue on insomnia is also a good read for this cold grey (in Gemany) weekend ahead.
Of course there were other important sleep research topics in 2020 besides COVID-19. The Lancet article also looks at the economics of CPAP as well as new studies supporting astrocytes as key elements in the regulation of brain function. New evidence indicates that disturbed sleep might be among the strongest risk factors for development of neurodegenerative diseases.

10 Global Health Issues to Track in 2021

As we move into 2021, still in the midst of a global pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) included NCDs and mental health in its list of 10 Global Health Issues to Track in 2021.
What was the biggest sleep research breakthrough of 2020 in your opinion? What research do you hope to see come out of 2021? Let us know what you are reading that is worth sharing Contact us at the ESRS!
Stay tuned as we have an interview planned for next week following up on the topic of sleep research during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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For Additional reading and recent publications:

On COVID-19 and sleep:

  • Altena et al (2020). Dealing with sleep problems during home confinement due to the COVID-19 outbreak: Practical recommendations from a task force of the European CBT-I Academy. J Sleep Res.
  • Cellini et al. (2020) Changes in sleep timing and subjective sleep quality during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy and Belgium: age, gender and working status as modulating factors. Sleep Med.
  • Partinen et al. (2020) Sleep and circadian problems during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic: the International COVID‐19 Sleep Study (ICOSS). J Sleep Res.
  • Schiza et al. (2020) Sleep Laboratories Reopening and COVID-19: A European Perspective. Eur Respir J.
  • Trakada et al. (2020) Sleep During “Lockdown” in the COVID-19 Pandemic. Int J Environ Res Public Health.

On Insomnia:

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