Worldwide, the life of the people as well as their physical and mental well-being is affected by the pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 has led to altered sleep patterns especially to our healthcare professionals and other frontliners.
Sleep is important because it helps maintain overall occupational performance and overall well-being. It’s vital as well to understand the significance of sleep and the immune response during a pandemic. Sleep is one of the most important prophylactics to keep the physical and mental state of people during the pandemic.
STAGES OF SLEEP
There are two major stages of sleep:
- Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – the brain becomes active, the eyes move fast, dreams are happening, and the body becomes relaxed and immobilized.
- Non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep – has 3 stages of increased sleep depth (N1, N2, and N3). Each stage has different functions and effects on sleep.
IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC ON SLEEP
- People are not setting alarms
- People are sleeping longer
- People are experiencing a lack of sleep
- People are experiencing strange and vivid dreams
- People are sleeping longer
CHALLENGES TO SLEEP DURING PANDEMIC
Disruption of daily life
- Stuck at home with low levels of natural light
- New daily schedule or even lack of schedule
Worry, anxiety, and depression
- Economic concerns
- Fear of contracting the virus and fear from the health of family and friends who are at higher risk
- Uncertainty about the disease and the implications thereof
Greater family and works stress
- Isolation from friends
- Canceled trips
- Keeping up with work responsibilities from and home and managing as well the situation at home
- Being cooped up at home
Excess screen time
- Binge-watching television
- Zoom meetings with family and colleagues
- Following news on the phone
Screen time later in the evening harms sleep. The production of melatonin is being suppressed by the blue light from the screen.
- Physical symptoms like memory laps, headaches, digestive problems
- Chronic stress from living through a pandemic
IMPORTANCE OF SLEEP DURING PANDEMIC
- Enhances mood
- Strengthening the immune system
- Improves brain function and mental health
Sleep is a public health and safety issue for healthcare professionals. Having poor sleep may be linked to mental health and physical health issues that are related to anxiety and stress. Sleep is also an occupation health threat for healthcare professionals because some of them are already fatigued and overworked due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SLEEP AND IMMUNE FUNCTION
Between sleep and the immune system, there’s a bidirectional link. Sleep is changed by the activation of the immune system and the adaptive and innate immune systems are affected by sleep. It depends on the time and magnitude of an inflammatory response that is stimulated by the immune system. Wherein, sleep can be increased in intensity and duration but also disturbed. If we have an infection, it makes us tired and increases the need to sleep. Sleep is frequently commended as being ‘the best medicine’. It has been made known that persistent lack of sleep makes the immune system of the body weak. It also reduces its risk to certain infections especially colds. There is proof that sleep improves the function of the immune and helps the body to heal.