A few weeks ago, our wellbeing partner @shleep hosted a webinar on why sleep is crucial in response to COVID-19. The sleep expert explained that sleep has an immediate effect on our immune system. Some of us will have experienced it, COVID-19 and the anxiety surrounding it can have a negative impact on our sleep pattern. This added to our increase in screen time at the moment and we are literally ‘losing sleep over it!’
More recently, Shleep looked at scientific studies and came up with two sleep aspects to help fight the disease: sleep duration and sleep quality.
One study on 164 men and women found that sleeping less than 6 hours a night over the course of one week increased the likelihood of developing a cold by a whopping 4.2 times, compared to sleeping more than 7 hours a night during that same period. And although 7 hours a night is better than 6 or less, another study showed that 8 or more hours of sleep a night is preferable, further decreasing our risk of developing a cold. Although the exact optimal amount of sleep is unclear, sleeping less than 6 hours a night has consistently been linked to increased health risks. For instance, one study found that in a sample of nearly 57,000 women, those who reported sleeping 6 hours or less a night were at significantly greater risk of developing pneumonia compared to those sleeping 8 hours a night.
Beyond sleep duration, it seems that sleep quality is an equally important immune system booster. The sleep duration study above looked at the amount of time participants spent awake in bed, trying to sleep. They found that while 7–8 hours of total sleep is a reasonable target, even minimal amounts of sleep disturbances, such as 10 to 38 minutes of staying awake in the case of an 8-hour sleeper, are associated with a 3.9 times increase in the risk of developing a cold. Good sleep is essential in general for our bodies and minds to recover, but can be the first thing to go when we are feeling stressed. Poor sleep can lead to tiredness and fatigue, leaving us feeling even more stressed. Sleeping allows us to relax, improving our mental and emotional wellbeing.
This month is stress awareness month and this year it is even more relevant as more people are dealing with stress.
So let’s remember the role that sleeping plays in helping us stay healthy.
If you have missed the Shleep webinar, please click HERE to access the recording.