Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

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...

MSMR Vol. 18 No. 12 - December 2011

Report
1/1/2011

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Brief report: Births, active component, 2001-2010; Brief report: Numbers and characteristics of women in the active component, U.S. Armed Forces; Complications and care related to pregnancy, labor and delivery, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001-2010; Urinary stones, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001-2010; Uterine fibroids, active component females, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001-2010; Historical snapshot: Dr. Anna Baetjer, industrial hygiene pioneer, military occupational health advocate.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps COSC Policy Update

Policy

Mental Health Assessments for Members of the Armed Forces Deployed in Connection with a Contingency Operation

Policy

Public Health Emergency Management within Department of Defense

Presentation
6/8/2010

Public Health Emergency Management within Department of Defense briefing presented to the Defense Health Board June 8, 2010

Recommended Content:

Emergency Preparedness and Response | Public Health

MSMR Vol.17 No. 4 - April 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: To readers of the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report (MSMR); Hospitalizations among members of the active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009; Ambulatory visits among members of the active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009; Surveillance Snapshot: Illness and injury burdens among U.S. military recruits; Reportable medical events, active and Reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009; Acute respiratory disease (ARD) and streptococcal pharyngitis rates (SASI), basic combat training centers, U.S. Army, by week, April 2008-April 2010; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, March 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through March of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 6 - June 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incident diagnoses of cancers and cancer-related deaths, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2000-December 2009; Surveillance Snapshot: Lightning-related medical encounters, 2009-2010; Brief Report: Japanese encephalitis surveillance among beneficiaries of the U.S. Military Health System, 2000-2009; Acute respiratory disease, basic training centers, U.S. Army, July 2008-July 2010; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, May 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through May of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 3 - March 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Motor vehicle-related deaths, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009; Update: Heat injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis among U.S. military members, 2009; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1999-2009; Acute respiratory disease, basic training centers, U.S. Army, March 2008-March 2010; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, February 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through February of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 5 - May 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Temporal characteristics of motor vehicle-related fatalities, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2009; Obstructive sleep apnea, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2000-December 2009; Insomnia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2000-December 2009; Surveillance Snapshot: Sleep studies; Surveillance Snapshot: Q fever; Acute respiratory disease, basic training centers, U.S. Army, August 2009-May 2010; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, April 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through April of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 1 - January 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Outbreak report: Malaria in a U.S. Marine reserve unit deployed to Benin; Surveillance Snapshot: Influenza reportable events, service members and other beneficiaries, 2009-2010; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, December 2009; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through December of 2008 and 2009; Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009; Case report: Fatal outcome of falciparum malaria acquired in Liberia, U.S. Navy member, 2009.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 2 - February 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Medical evacuations from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), active and Reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, October 2001-September 2009; Accidental injuries from hand-to-hand combat training and combat sports, U.S. Armed Forces, 2002-2009; Surveillance Snapshot: Medical evacuations for humeral fractures due to arm wrestling; Acute respiratory disease, basic training centers, U.S. Army, February 2008-February 2010; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through January of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 7 - July 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Low back pain, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2009; Thoracolumbar spine fractures, active and reserve components, 2000-2009; Tendon ruptures, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2009; Surveillance snapshot: Plantar fasciitis; Surveillance snapshot: Abnormal glucose tolerance test; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through June of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 12 - December 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Numbers, proportions, and natures of conditions that are diagnosed for the first time within six months before retirement, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2003-2009; Osteoarthritis and spondylosis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2009; Surveillance snapshot: Pertussis diagnoses among service members and other beneficiaries of the U.S. Military Health System, January 2008-November 2010; Surveillance snapshot: Coccidioidomycosis diagnoses by location, active component, 2000-2009; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, December 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through November of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 11 - November 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Supplemental report: Selected mental health disorders among active component members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2007-2010; Mental disorders and mental health problems, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2000-December 2009; Hospitalizations for mental disorders, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2000-December 2009; Childbirth, deployment, and diagnoses of mental disorders among active component women, January 2002-June 2009; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, November 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through October of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 9 - September 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Contact transfer of vaccinia virus from U.S. military smallpox vaccinees, U.S. Armed Forces, December 2002-May 2010; Updates: Routine screening for antibodies to HIV-1, civilian applicants for U.S. military service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through August of 2009 and 2010; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, September 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 17 No. 10 - October 2010

Report
1/1/2010

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Illness and injury diagnoses within six months before retirement after 20 or more years of active service, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2009; Cold weather injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2005 - June 2010; Brief report: Incidence of interstitial cystitis and painful bladder syndrome, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2009; Update: Deployment health assessments, U.S. Armed Forces, October 2010; Sentinel reportable medical events, service members and beneficiaries, U.S. Armed Forces, cumulative numbers through September of 2009 and 2010.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < ... 51 52 53 54 55  ... > >> 
Showing results 766 - 780 Page 52 of 62

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.