Pandemic Sleep Advice Straight From Sleep Researchers
In the age of coronavirus, sleep is more important — and more elusive — than ever. Sleep researchers are here to help.
Maybe you’ve always struggled with your sleep. Or, perhaps because of the coronavirus outbreak, you’ve started experiencing insomnia as a result of changes to your everyday life, fears about the health and safety of you and your loved ones, financial insecurities, and the barrage of coronavirus information and misinformation that’s coming from all directions. In these uncertain times, it’s not surprising to find that many people have had an increase in sleep difficulties.
With all the challenges we’ll be facing over the next several months as individuals and within our communities, workplaces, schools, and, indeed, globally, there are many reasons to make healthy sleep a priority and take steps to preserve this vital bodily function.
What constitutes good sleep? First, getting the right amount for your age: Most adults require seven to eight hours of sleep for optimal health. Adolescents and emerging adults benefit from eight to 10 hours, school-aged children need between nine and 11 hours, and our littlest ones should get even more.
In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, we can’t afford not to sleep well right now.
Then, timing: Sleep does its best work for us when we get it at the right “time,” according to our internal, 24-hour body clock, aka our circadian rhythm. Humans are diurnal, meaning all of the workings of our body — eating, digestion, hormone secretion, and even learning and memory — are organized around the basic framework of wakefulness during the day and sleep at night. For individuals who work at night or follow a rotating shift schedule, finding the right sleep timing can be complicated because their sleep-wake schedules are often out of sync with day and night.
Finally, getting high-quality sleep: Sleep disruptions — whether they are from environmental sources…