Back to Top Skip to main content

A full night’s sleep could be the best defense against COVID-19

Sleep is critical for maintaining physical, cognitive and immunological dominance on and off the battlefield. Leaders must prioritize sleep as a valuable asset in maintaining readiness and resilience, especially in the context of multi-domain operations and increased health risks worldwide – including those risks associated with exposure to infectious diseases (U.S. Army photo by Robert Timmons) Sleep is critical for maintaining physical, cognitive and immunological dominance on and off the battlefield. Leaders must prioritize sleep as a valuable asset in maintaining readiness and resilience, especially in the context of multi-domain operations and increased health risks worldwide – including those risks associated with exposure to infectious diseases (U.S. Army photo by Robert Timmons)

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus | Total Force Fitness

Amidst growing concern about COVID-19 infection, health officials have provided several recommendations to help individuals protect themselves and their families from infection, including washing hands regularly and maintaining a distance of at least six feet from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Fortunately, a growing body of evidence suggests that an additional lifestyle modification could also dramatically improve your odds of avoiding infection – getting more sleep.

It has long been known that sleep is important for military performance.  The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research has conducted sleep studies since the 1950s, showing that sleep loss negatively affects emotional regulation, judgment, cognitive performance, learning and memory, psychological resilience and reaction time – each of which could be critical for success in multi-domain operational environments—and almost all other environments as well, from the athletic field to the classroom to the boardroom. This is why elite athletes make sure they obtain 8-10 hours of sleep per night: to acquire that extra “edge” that can make the difference between success and failure.

In addition, and of particular relevance given current concerns about the spread of COVID-19, recent evidence suggests that sleep is also important for healthy immune function and the ability to fight off infection.  "From a Soldier lethality perspective, we often state 'sleep is ammunition for the brain', as sleep is critical for decision making, vigilance and reaction time. When it comes to fighting the common cold and flu, sleep is your internal body armor that helps you fight some viruses and disease," said Army Col. Deydre Teyhen, Commander of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

The relationship between sleep and infectious disease is now being explored by researchers across the world, and several interesting and important findings have been reported.  For example, in one study, volunteers without previous exposure to the common cold were exposed to a live sample of the virus. Researchers found that no variable predicted whether a participant would fall sick better than sleep duration – not even age or stress level. In other words, those who habitually slept less were more likely to fall ill with the cold virus.

In another study conducted by the same group, a “sleep threshold” was discovered: individuals who averaged less than seven hours of sleep per night were found to have a three-fold greater risk of infection relative to those who averaged eight or more; that rate climbed to a 4 ½-fold greater risk for those with less than five hours of sleep.

Perhaps most surprisingly, it has also been found that six months after receiving a hepatitis B vaccination, individuals who slept fewer than six hours on the night prior to vaccination were at significant risk of being unprotected compared to those who had obtained more than seven hours of sleep.

In addition, there is now limited but exciting evidence from animal studies suggesting that sleep not only helps protect against initial infection, it also plays a direct role in aiding recovery from infectious illness.

Although there have not yet been any studies in which the relationship between sleep duration and COVID-19 infection have been studied directly, lessons learned from studying the relationship between sleep duration and other infectious diseases can readily be generalized to COVID-19.

"Sleep is critical for maintaining physical, cognitive and immunological dominance on and off the battlefield.  Leaders must prioritize sleep as a valuable asset in maintaining readiness and resilience, especially in the context of multi-domain operations and increased health risks worldwide—including those risks associated with exposure to infectious diseases," says Army Lt. Col. Vincent Capaldi, director of the Behavioral Biology branch at WRAIR, responsible for studying the relationship between sleep, performance and military effectiveness.

Unfortunately, approximately one in three American adults do not obtain the American Academy of Sleep Medicine-recommended 7+ hours of sleep per night, a situation that is estimated to cost the US economy approximately $411 billion a year due to increased errors and accidents, lower productivity and increased absenteeism. And the problem is particularly pronounced in the military, where approximately two in three Soldiers average six or fewer hours of sleep a night.

Research laboratories under the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command including WRAIR, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease and U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, are working diligently on a range of solutions to detect, treat and prevent COVID-19, including a vaccine.

WRAIR sleep and infectious disease researchers are also jointly exploring the relationship between sleep and immune function – a natural collaboration since the WRAIR infectious disease research programs are among the best in the world, having contributed to the development of many FDA-approved vaccines and every existing FDA-approved malaria prevention drug. Furthermore, WRAIR’s world-renowned sleep and performance research program has generated several technological and knowledge products, including wrist actigraphy (a precursor to current smart watch technology) to reliably measure and quantify sleep in the field; human functional brain imaging studies that have furthered scientific understanding of sleep and sleep loss and the discovery of “sleep banking”: the finding that extra sleep prior to a mission with sleep loss blunts the performance decrement and reduces the amount of sleep needed to fully recover afterwards.

As medical countermeasure development efforts progress, obtaining at least seven hours of sleep per night in a comfortable, cool, quiet, dark and safe area, in addition to regular handwashing with soap and water and maintaining a healthy social distance (6 feet), will continue to constitute the first line of defense against infection.

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

MHS Minute Combatting COVID 19

Video
3/30/2020
The MHS Minute, Special Edition: COVID-19

Agencies across the federal government are partnering up to combat COVID-19. Find out how the Military Health System is doing its part to support the U.S. response to this pandemic, while ensuring our Service members remain ready.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 3 - March 2020

Report
3/30/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2011–2019; Incidence of sexually transmitted infections before and after insertion of an intrauterine device or contraceptive implant, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2019; Blood lead level surveillance among pediatric beneficiaries in the Military Health System, 2010–2017

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Policy Exception for Telehealth Use for ABA during COVID-19 Pandemic

Publication
3/30/2020

Communication to ABA Providers Regarding Temporary Authorization to Utilize Telehealth for CPT Code 97156 During the COVID-19 National Emergency

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Autism Care Demonstration | TRICARE Health Program

Q & A: Policy Exception for Telehealth Use for ABA during COVID-19 Pandemic

Publication
3/30/2020

Question and Answer: TRICARE Autism Care Demonstration (ACD): Regarding Temporary Authorization to Utilize Telehealth for CPT Code 97156 during the COVID-19 National Emergency

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Autism Care Demonstration | TRICARE Health Program

USNS Comfort to join New York's COVID-19 fight

Article
3/30/2020
Reservists in camouflage uniforms stand in line to check in

The Comfort is 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the people of New York, said Trump

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Defense Health Agency takes action against COVID-19

Article
3/30/2020
Image of medical worker  putting on gloves and a mask

From call centers to hospital reform, the Defense Health Agency is working quickly to keep citizens safe from the novel coronavirus

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

200 new doctors, nurses to join military medical ranks early

Article
3/27/2020
Military medical professionals take their oath at their graduation from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences during a ceremony in Washington, May 18, 2019. More than 200 USU military medical students and graduate nursing students will be graduating early in 2020 to support their colleagues in the U.S. military health system amid the global coronavirus pandemic. (DoD file photo)

Military medical students will be graduating early to support the Military Health System amid the coronavirus pandemic

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military scientists, engineers develop ventilator prototype in response to COVID-19

Article
3/27/2020
Dr. Andrew Schicho, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division mechanical engineer, led one of the five teams by building a ventilator prototype in support of the Department of Defense Hack-a-Vent Innovation Challenge. (U.S. Navy photo by Eddie Green)

The team decided that building ventilators was how they serve the best at a time like this.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

In a COVID-19 world, pace yourself to stay resilient and avoid burnout

Article
3/26/2020
Kelly Blasko, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and the lead for mobile health clinical integration at the Defense Health Agency Connected Health branch. She shares what providers can do to pace themselves and use self-care practices and tools to stay resilient and avoid burnout. (DoD photo by Savannah Blackstock)

Our response to COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Need for blood donations constant despite COVID-19

Article
3/26/2020
Medical soldiers from the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, host a blood drive at Fort Bliss, Texas. The need for donated blood is especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Cindi King)

Limited shelf life, canceled blood drives threaten supply

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Nearly 10,000 Guardsmen called up for COVID-19 response

Article
3/25/2020
Army Sgt. Moises Castillo of the California Army National Guard helps an Amador County resident load food supplies into a vehicle at the Interfaith Food Bank in Jackson, Calif., March 23, 2020. (U.S. Army photo illustration by Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

The president left control of the National Guard to the governors and the adjutant generals

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

DoD aims to fill medical gaps with military while states, cities ramp up

Article
3/24/2020
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper speaks to reporters during a news conference at the Pentagon to discuss the department's efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, March 23, 2020. (DoD photo by Army Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia)

The secretary sees the military filling gaps in cities, states until they can deal with COVID-19 on their own

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

USNS Mercy departs San Diego

Article
3/24/2020
The hospital ship USNS Mercy navigates the San Diego channel March 23. Mercy deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts, and will serve as a referral hospital for non-COVID-19 patients currently admitted to shore-based hospitals. This allows shore base hospitals to focus their efforts on COVID-19 cases. One of the Department of Defense’s missions is Defense Support of Civil Authorities. DoD is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, as well as state, local and public health authorities in helping protect the health and safety of the American people. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lasheba James)

Mercy's mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.

Recommended Content:

Civil Military Medicine | Civil Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Air Force takes steps to assure ‘unblinking’ operations, readiness and capabilities amid pandemic

Article
3/23/2020
Air Force medics and health personnel around the globe are resolutely following and ensuring compliance with guidelines issued by the Department of Defense and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Dorothy Hogg.

Within the Air Force, our medics are executing all available measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus

Addressing emotional responses to threat of Coronavirus

Article
3/20/2020
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kathleen A. Myhre, 446th Airman and Family Readiness Center noncommissioned officer in charge, meditates outside the 446th Airlift Wing Headquarters building on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Feb. 12, 2020. Myhre traveled to India in 2016 to study to become an internationally-certified yoga instructor. She now shares her holistic training with Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 446th AW. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Mary A. Andom)

Even if you’re feeling healthy, medical professionals recommend staying home and limiting social contact as much as possible

Recommended Content:

Preventive Health | Mental Wellness | Physical Activity | Combat Support | Public Health | Coronavirus | Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 25

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing: Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.