COVID-19 illness in relation to sleep and burnout

Hyunju Kim, Sheila Hegde, Christine Lafiura, Madhunika Raghavan, Eric Luong, Susan Cheng, Casey M. Rebholz, Sara B. Seidelmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Sleep habits and burnout have been shown to be associated with increase in infectious diseases, but it is unknown if these factors are associated with risk of COVID-19. We assessed whether sleep and self-reported burnout may be risk factors for COVID-19 among high-risk healthcare workers (HCWs). Methods From 17 July to 25 September 2020, a web-based survey was administered to HCWs in six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, USA) with a high frequency of workplace exposure. Participants provided information on demographics, sleep (number of sleep hours at night, daytime napping hours, sleep problems), burnout from work and COVID-19 exposures. We used multivariable linear and logistic regression models to evaluate the associations between sleep, burnout and COVID-19. Results Among 2884 exposed HCWs, there were 568 COVID-19 cases and 2316 controls. After adjusting for confounders, 1-hour longer sleep duration at night was associated with 12% lower odds of COVID-19 (p=0.003). Daytime napping hours was associated with 6% higher odds, but the association varied by countries, with a non-significant inverse association in Spain. Compared with having no sleep problems, having three sleep problems was associated with 88% greater odds of COVID-19. Reporting burnout â € every day' was associated with greater odds of COVID-19 (OR: 2.60, 95% CI 1.57 to 4.31, p trend across categories=0.001), longer duration (OR: 2.98, 95% CI 1.10 to 8.05, p trend=0.02) and severity (OR: 3.26, 95% CI 1.25 to 8.48, p trend=0.02) compared with reporting no burnout. These associations remained significant after adjusting for frequency of COVID-19 exposures. Conclusions In six countries, longer sleep duration was associated with lower odds of COVID-19, but the association with daytime nap may not be consistent across countries. 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 HCWs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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