The struggle of sleep during the pandemic: interactions of stress, anxiety, and sleep

Christopher P. Ward, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology, College of Human Sciences and Humanities /University of Houston-Clear Lake

The public health response to the COVID-19 virus has resulted in major changes to daily life.  Many people are experiencing disruptions of sleep during this period.  These disruptions are largely the result of increased anxiety and stress along with changes to regular schedules.  Additionally, disruptions of sleep can cause further problems with anxiety and stress which can create a downward spiral.  The research from our laboratory has demonstrated in rodents and human participants that sleep is vital for proper stress response and cognitive function.  From tickling rats to giving a spontaneous speech, we can use a variety of research methods to show the role sleep plays in the normal functioning of our nervous system.  This evidence should highlight the importance of getting proper sleep even when sleep is a struggle.