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. 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

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 6 – July 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: Adenovirus type 4 outbreak among basic trainees, Ft. Benning, Georgia, April-May 2000; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Completeness and timeliness, 1999; ARD surveillance update; Migraines among active duty military personnel, 1998-1999; Supplement: HIV-1 antibody screening among active duty, reservists, and civilian applicants for military service, 1985-2000.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 9 – November 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: Noncombat gunshot injuries, active duty service members, 1990 – 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Monthly and installation - specific rates of pneumonia and influenza diagnoses, U.S. Army, July 1998 - June 2000; ARD surveillance update.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 3 – March 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: Heat-related injuries among active duty soldiers and Marines, 1997-1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Overhydration and hyponatremia among active duty soldiers,1997-1999; Five most common arthropod-borne diseases among active duty service members in the U.S. Armed Forces, 1995-1999; Acute respiratory disease surveillance update; Envenomations of active duty soldiers, October 1997 - September 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 1 – January 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: Meningococcal disease among soldiers, U.S. Army, 1964-1998; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Incidence of renal stone disease, U.S. Military, 1998; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #1: Reportable medical events; Reportable events, by quarter, 1999; Reportable events, by patient category, 1998-1999; Active duty force strength (September 1999).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 2 – February 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: Malaria among members of an inspection team after a one-week mission to Central America; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Appendicitis and appendectomies, active duty U.S. Armed Forces,1990-1998; Injury-related morbidity in relation to military occupations, active duty U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-1999; Acute respiratory disease surveillance update; Correction: Force strength, active duty soldiers (September 1999).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 4 – April 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: Summary of ambulatory visits, U.S. Army, 1999; Summary of hospitalizations, U.S. Army, 1999; Summary of reportable events, U.S. Army, 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Acute respiratory disease surveillance update; Force strength, U.S. Army, December 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 6 No. 10 – December 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: ARD surveillance update; Completeness of reporting of hospitalized cases of reportable medical events, U.S. Navy, January 1998 - June 2000; Cold weather injuries, active duty soldiers; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Ehrlichia chaffeensis infection in an active duty soldier, Korea; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Army, January - June 2000.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 1 – January/February 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria, U.S. Army, 1998; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, January 1999; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, January 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Mortality trends, active duty military, 1990 – 1997; ARD surveillance update; All reportable conditions, 1998; Sentinel reportable diseases, 1998 (vs. 1997); Sentinel reportable STDs, 1998 (vs. 1997); Active duty force strength, September 1998; Supplement #1 reportable diseases.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 8 – December 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Malaria experience among U.S. active duty soldiers 1997-1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Incidence of diabetes mellitus among active duty service members, U.S. Armed Services 1998; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Army, January 1999 - June 1999; ARD surveillance update; Completeness and timeliness of reporting of hospitalized notifiable cases, U.S. Navy, January 1998 - June 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 2 – March 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Overhydration/hyponatremia, recent trends, U.S. Army; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, February 1999; Selected sentinel reportable diseases, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, February 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Field study, ARD, U.S. Army trainees, Fort Jackson, SC; ARD surveillance update Correction: Mortality trends, active duty military, 1990-1997.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 3 – April 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial; Hospitalization Trends, U.S. Army, 1998; Selected sentinel reportable events, March 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, March 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Active duty hospitalizations; Active duty hospitalization rates; Hospitalization-related lost duty days; Hospitalization-related lost duty rates; Ambulatory trends, U.S. Army, 1998; ARD surveillance update; Active duty ambulatory visits; Active duty ambulatory rates; Reportable events, 1998; All reportable events, 1998; Sentinel reportable events, 1998 (vs. 1997); Sentinel reportable STD's, 1998 (vs. 1997); Force strength (December 1998); Supplement #1: Hospitalization summary, 1998; Supplement #2: Ambulatory summary, 1998; Supplement #3: Reportable events summary, 1998.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 4 – May 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Varicella Primary Prevention Program (VPPP), Fort Knox; ARD surveillance update; Completeness and timeliness of reporting; Pneumococcal pneumonia outbreak, Fort Benning; Selected sentinel reportable events, April 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, April 1999.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 7 – October/November 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Acute respiratory illnesses, pneumonias, and influenza, U.S. Army, January 1998 - May 1999; Sentinel reportable events by reporting facility; Sentinel reportable events, active duty soldiers; Predictors of accidental death in male soldiers, 1990-1998; Injuries among senior officers, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #1: Reportable medical events; Quarterly update, all reportable conditions, 1999; Sentinel reportable events; Sentinel reportable STDs; Active duty force strength (June 1999).

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 5 No. 5 – June/July 1999

Report
1/1/1999

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Active duty, 1985-1999; Reserve, 1985-1999; National Guard, 1985-1999; Civilian applicants for service; Program summary, U.S. Army, 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, June 1999; Selected sentinel reportable events, 2 year trends; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, June 1999; Reportable sexually transmitted diseases, 2 year trends; Histoplasmosis outbreak, U.S. soldiers, Panama; ARD surveillance update; Supplement #2: Reportable medical events; Quarterly update, all reportable conditions, 1999; Sentinel reportable diseases, 1999 (vs. 1998); Sentinel reportable STD's, 1999 (vs. 1998); Active duty force strength (March 1999); Supplement #1: Update: HIV-1 screening, US Army.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < ... 16 17 18 19 > >> 
Showing results 226 - 240 Page 16 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.