Poor sleep, burnout may up coronavirus risk, study claims

Hoping to avoid a coronavirus infection? Avoid burnout and get good sleep, suggests the findings of a new study. 

In a study recently published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, researchers from July to September 2020 surveyed more than 2,800 health care workers across six countries who were considered at high-risk for a COVID-19 infection, as they worked in critical care, emergency care, or internal medicine.

Study participants were asked several questions about their sleep habits, including daytime napping and severe sleep issues, as well as their work-related burnout levels. 

By the end, the researchers concluded that each additional 1 hour of sleep resulted in a 12% decreased risk for COVID-19.


Meanwhile, those who said they were suffering from work-related burnout every day were nearly 3 times more likely — 2.6 times to be exact — to be infected with COVID-19, battle a coronavirus infection for a longer amount of time, as well as being more likely to have severe COVID-19-related symptoms. 

Poor sleep and burnout are known to be associated with a general increase in infectious diseases. Poor sleep, in particular, can affect one’s immune system, making them more likely to get sick following exposure to a virus such as the common cold.

The study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health is said to be the first to link poor sleep and burnout directly with an increased risk for COVID-19, per the researchers. 

"In six countries, longer sleep duration was associated with lower odds of COVID-19," the study authors concluded, in part. "Greater sleep problems and high level of burnout were robustly associated with greater odds of COVID-19. Sleep and burnout may be risk factors for COVID-19 in high-risk [health care workers]." 

"Our results highlight the importance of healthcare professionals’ well-being during the pandemic. Awareness of these risk factors in [health care workers] will be helpful in maintaining a healthy and productive workforce," they added. 

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