Filter Stories By

The Importance of Sleep in the Time of COVID-19

One of the most potent defenses against illness is adequate sleep. Unfortunately, since the start of the pandemic, the rejuvenating slumber we all need has become elusive.

Research suggests the rate of clinical insomnia is 37% higher than before the peak of the pandemic. Both fear of contracting COVID-19, and symptoms suffered by those recovering from it are causing a record number of people to lie in bed awake at night. Just. Staring. At. The. Ceiling.

While it is unclear what effect insomnia is having on COVID-19 rates, the importance of sleep on health cannot be overstated, said sleep neurologist Jay Puangco, M.D., ABMS, FAASM, service chief of the Voltmer Sleep Center at Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag.

“Sleep is incredibly important to good health,” Dr. Puangco said. “We’ve known for a long time that sleep is tied to our immune system.”

At the Voltmer Sleep Center, Dr. Puangco counsels’ patients about how sleep can help strengthen the body’s defense system against disease, including COVID-19.

“It’s a difficult time with COVID-19 going on. Many people are at home and under stress with what’s happening. This, understandably, can affect our sleep,” he said.

Dr. Puangco is urging patients to avoid some of the bad habits many people have developed since March, including indulging in too much screen time before bed, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and lack of routine.

Dr. Puangco said the most effective way to fight against “COVID-insomnia” is to institute good “sleep hygiene” and a regular wind-down routine at the same time every night, including weekends. It is also important to maintain a consistent daily schedule.

“Try to avoid technology in the bedroom and turn away from screens at least an hour before bed. The blue light from TV, computer and phone screens suppress melatonin and affects the quality of your sleep,” he said.

Getting plenty of exercise and keeping your bedroom cool will also help you sleep better at night.

“If your sleep disorders require more expert care, a specialist can help ‘re-train’ your brain to sleep more soundly,” he said.

The Voltmer Sleep Center, for instance, uses cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques to help combat insomnia.

“The problems facing the world are difficult, but the problems most patients face with sleep disturbances are easier to solve,” he said. “We can help.”

For more information, call 888-579-8577.