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. 8 No. 3 – May 2002

Report
1/1/2002

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria among active duty soldiers, U.S. Army, 2001; ARD surveillance update; Sentinel reportable events; Serogroup C meningococcal disease outbreak- Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, 2002.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 8 No. 2 – March/April 2002

Report
1/1/2002

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hospitalizations among active duty personnel; Ambulatory visits among active duty personnel; Reportable medical events among active duty personnel; Acute respiratory disease surveillance, U.S. Army; Relative burdens of selected illnesses and injuries; Characteristics of active duty personnel.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 8 No. 4 – June 2002

Report
1/1/2002

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Heat-associated injuries, U.S. Army 1991-2002; Hematuria among active duty members, U.S. Armed Forces, 1999-2000; ARD surveillance update; Sentinel reportable events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 8 No. 6 – August 2002

Report
1/1/2002

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incidence rates and correlates of risk of herpes zoster, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2001; Rates and patterns of readmission after discharge from U.S. military hospitals, 2001; Sentinel reportable events; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 7 – August 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: ARD Surveillance Update; Sentinel Reportable Events; Lightning-Associated Injuries among Active Duty Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2000; Electrical Injuries Among Active Duty Members, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2000.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 1 – January 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria among active duty U.S. soldiers, 2000; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; P. vivax malaria acquired by U.S. soldiers in Korea: acquisition trends and incubation period characteristics, 1994-2000; P. falciparum malaria in the sons of a soldier in Hanau, Germany; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #1: Reportable medical events; Reportable events, by quarter, 2000; Reportable events, by patient category, 1999-2000; Active duty force strength (September 2000).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 6 – July 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Morbidity among women who are pregnant and have babies on active duty, U.S. Armed Forces,1997-1999; Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Type 1, antibody screening among soldiers and civilian applicants for military service, 1985- 2001; ARD Surveillance Update; Sentinel Reportable Events.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 5 – May/June 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Diagnoses of Clinical Obesity, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2000; Completeness and Timeliness of Reporting of Hospitalized Notifiable Cases, U.S. Army, 2000; Acute Side Effects of Anthrax Vaccine in ROTC Cadets Participating In Advanced Camp, Fort Lewis, 2000; Sentinel Reportable Events; ARD Surveillance Update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 3 – March 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Heat injuries - U.S. Army, 1998-2000; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Cutaneous fungal infections - U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-1999; Noise-induced hearing loss among men - U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-1999; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 2 – February 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Infectious Mononucleosis among Active Duty U.S. Service members, 1998-1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Pseudo-outbreak Associated with False Positive Laboratory Tests for Mononucleosis, Lackland Air Force Base, January-February 1999; Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in a Family of Five, Olsbrucken, Germany; ARD surveillance update; Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Active Duty Soldiers, 1998-1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 9 – November/December 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cold weather injuries among active duty soldiers, U.S. Army, 1997-2001; Monthly installation injury surveillance reports: surveillance of injuries and their impacts at the installation level, U.S. Navy and Marines; Monthly installation injury surveillance reports: surveillance of injuries and their impacts at the installation level, U.S. Air Force; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Army, January 1995-June 2001; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Navy, January 1998-June 2001; Completeness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Air Force, January 1998-June 2001; Sentinel Reportable Events; ARD Surveillance Update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 8 – September/October 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Disease and nonbattle injury surveillance among deployed U.S. Armed Forces: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Southwest Asia, July 2000-September 2001; Monthly installation injury surveillance reports: surveillance of injuries and their impacts at the installation level, U.S. Armed Forces; Sentinel Reportable Events; ARD Surveillance Update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 7 No. 4 – April 2001

Report
1/1/2001

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Hospitalizations among active duty personnel; Ambulatory visits among active duty personnel; Reportable medical events among active duty personnel; Relative burdens of selected illnesses and injuries; Acute respiratory disease surveillance; Characteristics of active duty personnel.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 5 – May / June 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Skin cancer, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Bell's Palsy, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-1999; ARD surveillance update; Carpal tunnel syndrome, U.S. soldiers, 1998-1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 7 – August 2000

Report
1/1/2000

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Musculoskeletal Disorders, U.S. Army, 1990 – 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Assault - Related Hospitalizations, Active Duty Military, 1990 – 1999; ARD Surveillance update; Allergic Rhinitis Among Active Duty Service members, 1998 – 1990; Force Strength, Active Duty Soldiers, April 2000.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < ... 11 12 13 14 15  ... > >> 
Showing results 211 - 225 Page 15 of 19

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.