Scientists to study sleep, or lack of it, during Covid-19 pandemic



An international group of neuroscientists will examine how the world is sleeping, or failing to, during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has upended work, social and family life for countless people, Reuters reports.

Sleep is known to be critical to physical and mental health - essential for tissue repair, cell regeneration, immune function, memory, and for regulating mood and emotions.

With many people anecdotally reporting sleep problems due to the new coronavirus - including difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep and vivid dreams - the project co-led by neuroscientists at Britain's Oxford University will investigate their impact on people's health and daily rhythms.

The International Covid-19 Sleep Study (ICOSS), will combine research from Austria, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Norway and the United States.

"Sufficient good quality sleep helps us cope, so it's worrying to see trends of poor sleep during this pandemic. We are hoping to study this... in more detail," said Colin Espie, an Oxford professor of sleep medicine.

The study will look at the impact of social confinement such as lockdowns or self-isolation on sleep. It will also examine how risks of exposure to the virus and how psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress can affect, or be affected by, sleep.

Researchers say their aim is to understand how sleep problems have emerged and to investigate how sleep during Covid-19 has interacted with lifestyle, health and wellbeing.

Data collected by the research teams will feed into an international database. The findings, Espie said, should help scientists "understand the challenges, but also to figure out solutions to keep the population well-slept and healthy".


People, part of a group of about 200 Colombians living temporarily at Guarulhos International Airport due to the coronavirus disease restrictions, sleep at a lobby of the airport, near Sao Paulo, Brazil. REUTERS file photo

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