Dear Pandemic: Why prioritize sleep?
The Nerdy Girls over at Dear Pandemic are thrilled to participate in Baby Sleep Day on March 1st. Visit the Pediatric Sleep Council’s Facebook page for Q&A all day on Baby Sleep Day, or to the Baby Sleep Day general info page for the schedule of experts.
Healthy sleep during a pandemic can be tough – especially for parents who spend a lot of energy balancing their family and work demands. Sleep researchers have even coined a new term, COVIDsomnia, to describe the experience of having a hard time falling asleep during the pandemic. On the other hand, some preliminary data indicate that the change in routine, with more time spent at home, can be beneficial for sleep! As we transition into the new normal, here are 4 terrific reasons why prioritizing your sleep will help you get through this challenging period.
1.) Healthy sleep enhances your immune system. If there’s any time to seek a top-notch immune system, it’s during the middle of a pandemic. Experimental studies indicate that sufficient sleep helps improve your antibody response. You should aim to get enough sleep both before and after you get your COVID-19 vaccine.
2.) Healthy sleep helps improves family life. When parents and children are getting regular, sufficient, and restorative sleep, household stress goes down by reducing conflict and increasing psychological well-being. With families spending more time together in the past year than ever before, we can reduce COVID-related tension by making sleep health a priority.
3.) Healthy sleep boosts your brain and thinking skills. Our brains are overloaded right now – while every household is different, one thing is for sure, we are juggling a lot of change, uncertainty, new information, and risk. Starting each day with sufficient restorative sleep helps you make good decisions throughout the day and cope with any obstacles you encounter.
4.) Healthy sleep is linked to overall health. Sufficient restorative sleep is one of the three pillars of a healthy lifestyle (along with nutrition and physical activity). Long-term sleep deficiency is linked to a host of adverse health outcomes including cardiovascular disease, dementia, and diabetes, which are also risk factors for severe cases of COVID-19. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can help reduce the risk of adverse outcomes associated with COVID-19.
A year into this pandemic, you’ve heard a lot of guidance on what to do (and what not to do). The Dear Pandemic team has created a SMARTS graphic to help you with your pandemic hygiene. For additional curated evidence-based information about COVID-19 epidemiology, symptoms, treatments, mental health, and everyday life during COVID-19, check out www.dearpandemic.org (or follow us on Facebook or Twitter).
Continue to check the Pediatric Sleep Council’s coronavirus page for super practical information about healthy sleep for your family during the pandemic.
This guest post was provided by Lauren Hale, PhD
Core Faculty, Program in Public Health
Professor, Department of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine
Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
Associate Editor, DearPandemic.org