The COVID-19 pandemic has a serious impact on our sleep patterns. This is alarming as a healthy sleep- wake rhythms is crucial for you immune system. Working from home and adapting to this new situation has caused people to suffer from sleep disorders and disruptions in their rhythm.
Good sleep is essential for a healthy, wel functioning immune system. Also, there are signals that point to the importance of melatonin in fighting the COVID-19 virus.
How are sleep and COVID-19 connected?
Studies have already shown that shift workers, especially those working the overnight shift, are more likely to suffer from upper respiratory infections, such as cold and flu viruses, then their day shift counterparts. A study of emergency room doctors found overnight and rotating shift work schedules were linked to measurable immune system function changes. These changes included a reduction in immune response. Furthermore, that decrease in activity was directly linked to a lack of sleep and poor sleep quality.
Poor quality sleep is also directly related to circadian rhythm disruption. Circadian rhythms directly impact immune system function on a mechanical level. One of the primary ways that circadian rhythms impact immune function has to do with the timing and coordination of immune responses, such as body temperature and inflammatory responses. Indeed, the influence of circadian rhythms reaches down to the timing of the activities of individual cells, controlling essential processes, including energy production and waste removal.
Chronic circadian rhythm disruption has been repeatedly linked to an increase of risk for many diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, diabetes and some cancers. Circadian rhythms play a vital role in immune system functioning. Thus, it is reasonable for researchers to conclude that chronic and ongoing circadian rhythm disruption can increase the risk of developing COVID-19 and may make it more difficult for the immune system to battle the virus.
Sleep quality is very important
Sleep disturbances have increased during the pandemic. There are multiple factors for these sleep disturbances. The fact that you are isolated and away from friends and family is one. Also worries about your health and financial issues contribute to this.
While disrupted sleep, insufficient sleep and overall poor quality of sleep are never good for health, it may be particularly troublesome during such a major health event as a pandemic.
That is because sleep quality has a direct impact on the ability of the immune system to function at optimal levels. Insufficient sleep has even been shown to impact how effective certain vaccines are. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), not getting enough sleep decreases antibody production after a flu vaccination by more than 50 percent.
Address the disruption
Improving your rhythm is essential for a good immune system and therefore protection against pathogens. Try to focus on a strong daily routine including meal times, work and sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, try focussing on avoiding screen time. Screens emit light that suppresses the melatonin production which in turn makes it harder for you to fall asleep.
Do you still want to look at your phone or watch TV? Use glasses with orange lenses to block the blue light so the melatonin production is not disrupted.