Research

Circadian Rhythm vs. Pandemic

Written by Lance Griffin

Circadian rhythm means more than a good night’s sleep. This inner clock regulates our immune system and our response to viruses. It even affects the success of virus therapy. Not surprisingly, circadian rhythm has played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the “critical role of sleep as a public health issue, particularly during a stressful life period such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” one group of scientists outlined the importance of circadian rhythm and issued some wisdom for the pandemic. [1]

Alongside diet and exercise, healthy sleep stands as a pillar of health. Even losing a single night of sleep reduces immune function. Apart from withstanding infection, losing sleep to the stress of the pandemic may have harmful long-term outcomes.

Stress causes sleep problems. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought illness alongside confinement and disrupted work routines. Time constraints like alarm clocks are one crucial safeguard. Daylight exposure also matters, and unfortunately, time spent outdoors has decreased. Thus, sleep schedules can fail to match the outside world.

Insomnia has rocketed among healthcare workers alongside anxiety and depression. The more severe the latter, the worse the sleep symptoms. Social support and a sense of belonging are solid buffers against these psychological disturbances.

With that in mind, take a look at some helpful tips to keep sleep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to Manage Sleep During COVID-19

  • Prioritize sleep: aim for 8 hours of rest per night.
  • Normalize the schedule: time cues like meals and social activities keep the circadian clock in rhythm.
  • Get sunlight, even if it’s just opening curtains.
  • Unwind before bedtime.
  • Avoid electronic devices.
  • If lacking sleep, take a midday nap.
  • Avoid work activities in bed; reserve the bed for sleep and sex only.
  • When insomnia strikes, perform quiet activities in another room.
  • Set an alarm in the morning and get up at the same time each day.

Sometimes, these tips will not be enough, and the sleeper must seek professional help to triumph over insomnia. In the short-term, sleep loss is natural. The COVID-19 pandemic desolated routines and schedules. In the long-term, however, regular healthy sleep can protect against health issues, including the virus. [1]

Reference

  1. Morin CM, et al. Sleep and circadian rhythm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Can J Public Health. 2020;111(5):654-657.

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PIRO4D from Pixabay

About the author

Lance Griffin

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