This commentary highlights the critical role of sleep as a public health issue, particularly during a stressful life period such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and provides evidence-based practical guidelines to manage sleep disturbances during this crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic and the imposed social confinement have produced significant stress, anxiety, and worries about health and the fear of being infected, jobs and financial problems, and uncertainty about the future. The incidence of sleep disturbances has also increased dramatically during this period. Aside from stress and anxiety, two other factors are likely to contribute to increased sleep disturbances during this crisis. First, alterations of our daily routines such as arising at a specific time, showing up at work, eating, exercising, and engaging in social and leisure activities at relatively fixed times are all important timekeepers for our sleep-wake cycles to remain synchronized with the day (light) and night (dark) cycles. Alterations of these timekeepers, combined with reduced daylight exposure, also essential to keep our biological clock synchronized, are likely to disrupt sleep and circadian rhythms. Sleep plays a fundamental role for mental and physical health, and adequate sleep duration and quality are essential for coping with major life events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health education is warranted to keep the population well informed about the importance of sleep and healthy sleep practices in order to cope with the pandemic and prevent or minimize long-term adverse outcomes.
About The Expert
Charles M Morin