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Disturbed Sleep – An Unexpected Driver of Post-COVID Breathlessness: Unveiling the Long-term Impact

"Interventions targeting poor sleep quality might be used to manage symptoms and convalescence following COVID-19 hospitalization, potentially improving patient outcomes," suggests Dr. John Blaikley, a clinical scientist and key contributor to a groundbreaking study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. This research, led by the University of Manchester and Leicester, delves into the association between sleep disruption and post-COVID-19 breathlessness. The findings underscore the need for comprehensive sleep health solutions in managing long-term COVID-19 symptoms.

Sleep disruption is increasingly recognized as a common symptom following a bout of COVID-19. Given that approximately 62% of patients admitted to hospitals for COVID-19 experience sleep disruption, this issue is of paramount importance in the current healthcare landscape. This aligns with Neurobit's focus on providing innovative sleep health solutions that cater to a broad range of sleep-related issues.

The study examined 1,465 patients from 38 institutions across the UK who had been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Using both subjective and objective measures of sleep quality, the researchers found that patients with disturbed sleep reported a higher degree of dyspnoea (shortness of breath). Particularly, 56% of the cohort experienced sleep disruption, which was found to persist for at least 12 months post-hospitalization. Moreover, the study revealed that patients experiencing sleep disturbances were 1.47 times more likely to suffer from breathlessness and had higher rates of anxiety, fatigue, and muscle weakness, all common post-COVID-19 symptoms.

(A) Participants were asked to rate their sleep quality before being hospitalised with COVID-19 and at the time of assessment, during their early follow-up (median 5 months after discharge from hospital for COVID-19). Sleep quality was also assessed at a late follow-up (median 12 months after COVID-19 admission). The red line indicates median change; the black lines represent individual participants. *p<0·0001, Dunn's post-hoc test, Benjamini-Hochberg corrected p value. Using a device-based approach, assessments were made for: (B) sleep period duration; (C) sleep regularity index; and (D) sleep efficiency. The post-COVID-19 cohort (blue shaded area) was matched (age, sex, BMI, and, if applicable, time from hospital discharge) to non-hospitalised UK Biobank participants (green shaded area) or recently hospitalised UK Biobank participants (red shaded area). Means are depicted underneath the graphs; the error bars represent 95% CIs. †p<0·0001, t-test Benjamini-Hochberg corrected p value. The p value comparisons are for COVID-19 versus non-hospitalised and COVID-19 versus recently hospitalised cohorts.

The association between sleep disturbances and post-COVID-19 breathlessness underscores the significant role sleep plays in recovery and overall health. This further emphasizes the need for effective sleep health solutions in the treatment strategies for post-COVID-19 patients.

While the study provides valuable insights into the impacts of sleep disturbances on post-COVID recovery, it also highlights the challenges in objectively measuring and assessing sleep quality across a diverse population.

Neurobit offers innovative tools that can help address these challenges:

  1. Neurobit Score: An AI and deep learning platform that enables accurate sleep event labeling, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of individual sleep patterns.

  2. Z3 Pulse: A wearable ECG device that provides comprehensive sleep reports and personalized guidance, aiding in the management of sleep disturbances.

  3. Neurobit Hub: A platform that facilitates the collection and analysis of extensive datasets, promoting the discovery of novel biomarkers and sleep-centric treatment strategies.

Each product contributes uniquely to improving the understanding and management of sleep health, particularly in the context of post-COVID-19 recovery.

The significant role of sleep disturbances in post-COVID-19 breathlessness underscores the importance of prioritizing sleep health in recovery strategies. Neurobit's technology can play a crucial role in addressing these related issues, offering benefits for patients, clinicians, and researchers alike.

We invite you to learn more about our technologies and how they can contribute to improving sleep health. To try our technology, collaborate, or support our mission, please contact us at

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Jackson, C., Stewart, I. D., Plekhanova, T., Cunningham, P. S., Hazel, A. L., Al-Sheklly, B., Aul, R., Bolton, C. E., Chalder, T., Chalmers, J. D., Chaudhuri, N., Docherty, A. B., Donaldson, G., Edwardson, C. L., Elneima, O., Greening, N. J., Hanley, N. A., Harris, V. C., Harrison, E. M., … Zongo, O. (2023). Effects of sleep disturbance on dyspnoea and impaired lung function following hospital admission due to COVID-19 in the UK: A prospective multicentre cohort study. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, S2213260023001248.

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