5 Ways to Promote Healthy Sleep During the COVID-19 Crisis

Healthy sleep has never been more important, crucial to our response to this crisis and essential to cope with upcoming uncertainty

David Sunkersing
2 min readSep 28, 2020
Photo by LeeAnn Cline on Unsplash

Dr Jonathan Sunkersing, a GP with a special interest in Sleep Medicine highlights the importance of sleep, especially now during the COVID-19 crisis. He states:

At the time of writing, there have been over 33 million global cases of COVID-19, with a second wave anticipated in the winter months. Our lives have been severely affected both directly and indirectly and we need to radically alter our practice to cope with the changes.

Health anxiety, stress and work pressures have all significantly increased and this is impacting sleep in society. It is crucial we learn from recent experiences worldwide. Moreover, poor sleep has consistently been shown to have many negative health consequences, including effects on mental health, concentration, immune function and physical health (Krause et al., 2017).

Sleep is a fundamental component of health alongside diet and exercise. Healthy sleep has never been more important, crucial to our response to this crisis and essential to cope with upcoming uncertainty.

In light of this, several international experts have written guidelines to help promote healthy sleep during this crisis. Key messages from Morin et al. (2020), Altena et al. (2020) and Ballesio et al. (2020) are summarised below:

1. Aim for 7–8 hours of sleep per night

2. Develop a regular schedule for sleep, wake, work, activities, eating and exercise

3. Get outside or get as much daytime sunlight as possible

4. Unwind well and promote relaxation prior to bedtime

5. Reserve the bed only for sleep


Altena, E., Baglioni, C., Espie, C. A., Ellis, J., Gavriloff, D., Holzinger, B., Schlarb, A., Frase, L., Jernelöv, S., & Riemann, D. (2020). Dealing with sleep problems during home confinement due to the COVID-19 outbreak: Practical recommendations from a task force of the European CBT-I Academy. Journal of sleep research, e13052. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13052

Ballesio, A., Lombardo, C., Lucidi, F., & Violani, C. (2020). Caring for the carers: Advice for dealing with sleep problems of hospital staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. Journal of sleep research, e13096. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13096

Krause, A. J., Simon, E. B., Mander, B. A., Greer, S. M., Saletin, J. M., Goldstein-Piekarski, A. N., & Walker, M. P. (2017). The sleep-deprived human brain. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 18(7), 404–418. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn.2017.55

Morin, C. M., Carrier, J., Bastien, C., Godbout, R., & Canadian Sleep and Circadian Network. (2020). Sleep and circadian rhythm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian journal of public health = Revue canadienne de sante publique, 111(5), 654–657. https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-020-00382-7



David Sunkersing

PhD @ Imperial College London | Passionate About Improving Health and Health Care Worldwide