The rates of myocardial infarction were found to decline during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which also saw increases in sleep duration, according to a survey of 131 individuals conducted on social media and published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Social distancing and stay-at-home mandates may have had an impact on sleep duration. In this study, validated questionnaires were used to assess individuals for sleep patterns, tobacco use, and other health outcomes. Several aspects of sleep changed during the pandemic in individuals surveyed: mean sleep onset was delayed from 11:30 pm to 12:11 am (41 minutes), mean awakening onset was delayed from 7:00 am to 8:45 am (105 minutes), and overall sleep duration increased by 11% (44 minutes). Overall nightly sleep duration increased from 6.8 hours to 7.5 hours only in individuals who were not smoking cigarettes or vaping products. Tobacco or vaping consumption — factors which are associated with an increased cardiometabolic risk — were not found to decrease, but rather, to increase during the pandemic.
Sleep deprivation has been associated with incident myocardial infarction, impaired glucose tolerance, increased obesity risk, and pneumonia. The observed alleviation of sleep deprivation in this small cohort may be associated with important health benefits.
Study limitations include potential inaccuracies and risk for bias in the data which was self-reported and gathered through social media. In addition, other cardiometabolic risk factors such as body weight and lipids were not assessed.
“[W]e believe our findings to be important as the increased sleep duration observed during the COVID pandemic may have important health benefits. Short sleep duration is common in today’s 24/7 society. Sleep deprivation is also an epidemic and has been associated with incident [myocardial infarction], impaired glucose tolerance, increased obesity risk and pneumonia,” noted the study authors. “We would advocate for using this global crisis to improve work and sleep habits of the general population, which may lead to overall health benefits for our society.”
Ira A, Deepti G, Sarah B, et al. Is Increased Sleep Responsible for Reductions in Myocardial Infarction During the COVID-19 Pandemic? The American Journal of Cardiology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2020.06.027