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. 22 No. 2 - February 2015

Report
1/1/2015

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Whither the "signature wounds of the war" after the war: estimates of incidence rates and proportions of TBI and PTSD diagnoses attributable to background risk, enhanced ascertainment, and active war zone service, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2003-2014; Surveillance snapshot: responses to the traumatic brain injury (TBI) screening questions on the 2012 version of the Post-Deployment Health Assessment (DD Form 2796); Measles and mumps among service members and other beneficiaries of the U.S. Military Health System, January 2007-December 2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 22 No. 7 - July 2015

Report
1/1/2015

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Epidemiology, microbiology, and antibiotic susceptibility patterns of skin and soft tissue infections, Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, Texas, 2012-2014; Post-deployment screening and referral for risky alcohol use and subsequent alcohol-related and injury diagnoses, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008-2014; Incidence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005-2014; Surveillance snapshot: Prevalence of antibodies to viral causes of vaccine-preventable illnesses by state home of record among Air Force recruits, 25 April 2013 - 24 April 2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 22 No. 3 - March 2015

Report
1/1/2015

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Characterizing the relationship between tick bites and Lyme disease in active component U.S. Armed Forces in the eastern United States; Incidence and prevalence of diagnoses of eye disorders of refraction and accommodation, active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2014; Update: heat injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014; Surveillance snapshot: the geographic distribution of heat injuries among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2014; Update: exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2014; Update: exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1999-2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 22 No. 9 - September 2015

Report
1/1/2015

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Assessment of ICD-9-based case definitions for influenza-like illness surveillance; Incidence of syphilis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1 January 2010 through 31 August 2015; Brief report: Rate of prescriptions by therapeutic classification, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 22 No. 2 - February 2015 (Supplement)

Report
1/1/2015

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 22 No. 4 - April 2015

Report
1/1/2015

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Medical Surveillance Monthly Report: The first 20 years; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014; Hospitalizations among members of active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014; Ambulatory visits among members of the active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens among reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens among U.S. military recruit trainees, 2014; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of Military Health System, 2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 22 No. 5 - May 2015

Report
1/1/2015

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Incidence of joint replacement among active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004-2014; Case series: Chikungunya and dengue at a forward operating location; Tdap vaccination coverage during pregnancy, active component service women, 2006-2014; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza vaccination coverage during pregnancy, active component service women, October 2009-April 2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 1 - January 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Images in health surveillance: dengue and chikungunya virus vectors and prevention; Surveillance snapshot: self-reported malaria prophylaxis compliance among service members with diagnosed malaria, 2008-2013; Report of two cases of vivax malaria in U.S. soldiers and a review of malaria in the Republic of Korea; Update: malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013; Editorial: the military and its potential role in malaria elimination.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 2 - February 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Surveillance snapshot: male infertility, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2012; Urinary tract infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2013; Human T-lymphotropic virus infections in active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2000-2008.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 12 - December 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Development and implementation of a cohort review for latent tuberculosis infection; Brief report: number of tuberculosis tests and diagnoses of latent tuberculosis infection in active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2004–December 2014; Incidence of Campylobacter infections among service members of the active and reserve components of the U.S. Armed Forces and among other beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2000–2013; Glaucoma, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998–2013.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 3 - March 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Legionellosis in Military Health System beneficiaries, 1998-2013; Urinary tract infections during deployment, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008-2013; Update: heat injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013; Update: exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1999-2013; Update: exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009-2013.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 8 - August 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Spread of vaccinia virus through shaving during military training, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, TX, June 2014; Gynecologic disorders diagnosed during deployment to Southwest/Central Asia, active component females, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008-2013; Vaginal yeast infections while deployed in Southwest/Central Asia, active component females, U.S. Armed Forces, 2008-2013; Update: routine screening for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, civilian applicants for U.S. military service and U.S. Armed Forces, active and reserve components, January 2009-June 2014.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 5 - May 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Numbers and proportions of U.S. military members in treatment for mental disorders over time, active component, January 2000-September 2013; U.S. Armed Forces air crew: incident illness and injury diagnoses during the 12 months prior to retirement, 2003-2012; The geographic distribution of incident Lyme disease among active component service members stationed in the continental United States, 2004-2013; Injuries associated with combat sports, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2013; Surveillance snapshot: cauliflower ear, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004-2013.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 11 - November 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Transfusion-transmissible infections among U.S. military recipients of emergently transfused blood products, June 2006-December 2012; Evaluation of extragenital screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia in HIV-infected active duty Air Force members; An outbreak of Campylobacter enteritis associated with a community water supply on a U.S. military installation.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 21 No. 10 - October 2014

Report
1/1/2014

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Suicides and suicide attempts among active component members of the U.S. Armed Forces, 2010-2012: methods of self-harm vary by major geographic region of assignment; Risk of type II diabetes and hypertension associated with chronic insomnia among active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2013; Update: cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2009-June 2014; Surveillance snapshot: influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces healthcare workers, August 2008-April 2014; Surveillance snapshot: manner and cause of death, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 1998-2013.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 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.