Delayed sleep phase disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic and its health implications

CNS Spectr. 2023 Feb 28;1-6. doi: 10.1017/S109285292300007X. Online ahead of print.


Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are alterations that are characterized by a shift in the sleep-wake cycle relative to day and night, such as the delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD), which is a retard of at least 2 hours in the sleep start. Typically, the patient falls asleep after 2 a.m. and wakes up after 10 a.m. and with symptom of sleep onset insomnia. The prevalence of DSPD in young adults is 0.48%, increasing to 3.3% in adolescents. Interestingly, patients with COVID-19 infection report anxiety due to the intensive care unit lockdown and constant exposure to bright light. In addition, post-COVID patients have an increased risk of developing DSPD. For example, in adolescent post-COVID patients, the prevalence of DSPD increases to 63.3%. Patients with DSPD also have alterations in metabolic health, poor school performance, cognitive impairment, and a higher risk of developing other diseases. The objective of the present review is therefore to describe the characteristics of DSPD during the COVID-19 pandemic and to outline its possible implications for physical health (eg, metabolism) and mental health (eg, anxiety or depression).

Keywords: COVID-19; Chronobiology disorders; delayed sleep phase; mental health; metabolic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review