The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s daily lives has resulted in altered sleep patterns and an increase in narcolepsy symptoms, according to results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

The social isolation and interruption of daily routines resulting from COVID-19 precautions may impact individuals’ exposure to the light-dark cycle that regulates the circadian system, and thereby exacerbate existing narcolepsy symptoms. Though a recent study showed that COVID-19 quarantining has led to people going to bed later, getting up earlier, and getting lower quality sleep, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients with narcolepsy has not yet been determined.

To evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sleep schedules, symptoms, and the need for medication of individuals with narcolepsy, questionnaire data from 76 patients (68.4% women) diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia were analyzed. Patients were 36.9 years of age on average, and 68.7% were diagnosed with narcolepsy type 1 (NT1). No patients were diagnosed with COVID-19, though 14.5% experienced COVID-19-like symptoms. Excessive daytime sleepiness was evaluated using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which scores severity of sleepiness from 0 to 24.

More patients reported going to be later or had no fixed bedtime during the pandemic (P <.05) as well as waking up later or had no fixed wake-up time (P <.01). There was a significant increase in reported excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) (P <.01). Changes in bedtime schedules was significantly associated with increased EDS (P <.01), and a decrease in hallucinations (P <.01). An increase in the use of stimulants by patients using monotherapy and a decrease in the use of antidepressants, stimulants associated with antidepressants, or L-carnitine was observed (P =.014).

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