Published August 4, 2020
The unprecedented changes of routine and behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to disruption of good sleep health, another factor in the decline of quality life and adverse health, according to a UB School of Nursing PhD candidate and behavioral sleep researcher.
“Healthy sleep is important to physical, cognitive and psychological well-being. However, people facing the stress of the pandemic are increasingly experiencing poor sleep health, which includes irregular and ill-placement of sleep and wake-up times, difficulty falling or maintaining sleep, and feelings of non-restorative sleep,” says Misol Kwon, who is a student member of several national sleep research associations.
“Advantages of good sleep include optimal brain functioning — which affect mood and memory — and physical health, such as keeping a strong immune system and regulation of hormones,” says Kwon, who teaches an undergraduate course on sleep research under the guidance of Grace Dean, associate professor in the School of Nursing.
“Good sleep also leads to the ability to perform at our best while awake, which includes being vigilant and attentive, and that keeps us safe,” Kwon says.
These health benefits are especially important during the current pandemic, she says.
“I have had one of my dear patients tell me, ‘Sleep is not part of my priority right now. I have far more important things to worry about, like rescheduling my elective surgeries and taking care of my teen kids,’ ” Kwon says.
“I cannot imagine how disruptive this pandemic has been for many. But I want to note that healthy sleep is not only necessary to cope adaptively with the stress of the current crisis, but also is highly beneficial for our physical and mental health,” she says.
“Good sleep health helps us cognitively function better and make better decisions, enhances our mood and energy level, and improves our psychological well-being, especially in times where isolation and home confinement can make us more vulnerable to adverse mental health conditions.”
To help those with a good night’s rest, Kwon compiled a list of sleep tips to restore what she calls healthy sleep. And by healthy sleep, she means having quality sleep, as well as the sufficient seven or eight hours a day for adults recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“Just as practicing hand hygiene is a vital part of the response to this pandemic,” Kwon says, “good sleep hygiene behaviors and habits are much needed now more than ever to fight off anxiety and depression, and boost our immune system during this time of uncertainty.”