How COVID-19 Has Affected Sleep: Raman Malhotra, MD


Associate professor of neurology at Washington University in St. Louis discussed returning to normalcy following the COVID-19 pandemic and the nascent effects experts have seen on sleep health.

“The pandemic changed a lot of our thoughts and really highlighted the importance of health in many respects, and sleep is part of that.”

With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic appearing in sight, sleep experts and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) have explored how a virtual world both positively and negatively affected sleep health. Raman Malhotra, MD, associate professor of neurology, Washington University in St. Louis, discussed the issues many patients faced during the pandemic, with some reporting better sleep thanks to the absence of a commute while others found themselves negatively impacted by associated stress and fear. 

In conversation with NeurologyLive, Malhotra detailed the importance of sleep in general, noting its essential aspects for overall health both prior to and following COVID-19. Returning to “normalcy” will still require children, adolescents, and adults to order to maintain healthy sleep habits as a biological necessity. Malhotra further explained how virtual living, learning, and working has impacted patients’ sleep, as well as the resultant effects on overall health and safety.

The impact of the pandemic has been a topic of discussion amongst those in sleep medicine and coincides with a recent position statement published by AASM. Increased awareness surrounding the importance of sleep has increased in recent years, according to Malhotra, and AASM has issued a statement to highlight sleep as a necessity, in addition to the need for more sleep and circadian research. 

Ramar K, Malhotra RK, Carden KA, et al. Sleep is essential to health: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine position statement. Published online June 21, 2021. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.9476
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