Dr. Anthony Fauci – director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – is one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under the Trump Administration. He’s rapidly become a household name due to his leadership role and his ability to calmly and rationally talk about the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the public face of the task force, Dr. Fauci was recently interviewed by David Rubenstein on PBS News Hour. In the April 28th interview the NIAID director talked about the coronavirus White House press conferences, whether a vaccine is possible or not, the possibility of a virus mutation, and more.
Dr. Fauci also talked about the effect that sleep deprivation has had on his personal health.
How Dr. Fauci is improving his sleep routine to stay healthy
“There are 330 million people in the United States who are worried about your health every day. How are you staying healthy and how are you avoiding this virus? Because nobody wants you to be incapacitated. What are you doing to stay healthy?” Rubenstein asked.
“I’m not doing things that I would recommend to others because my day is just ridiculous. In the beginning I was foolish because we had so many things to do that I was getting 3 hours of sleep per night. That doesn’t work very well for more than a few days in a row,” Dr. Fauci said about the early days of the pandemic.
“Listening to the advice of my very clinically-skilled wife who formerly was a practicing nurse, the thing I do now that I didn’t do before is get at least 5 or 6 hours sleep. So I think that and staying away from people to the extent that I can, staying virtual like we’re doing right now, is keeping me OK. I’m running a little bit on fumes, but they’re pretty good fumes,” the director of the NIAID continued.
Why sleep is important during the COVID-19 crisis
A study published in 2016 indicates that sleep deprivation can increase your chances of developing a common cold or respiratory infection (like coronavirus).
This is bad news in the United States, where approximately 50-70 million people get insufficient sleep or suffer from a sleep disorder. Being sleep deprived can have a negative impact on your immune system, which is critical for your body’s ability to fight infectious diseases.
The study authors noted that sleep disturbances and a short sleep duration dramatically increased the likelihood that a patient would get an upper respiratory infection after an experimental viral challenge. The results of the study show that there is a correlation between self-reported short sleep duration and the probability of getting a cold, pneumonia, ear infection, or influenza.
It’s safe to assume that COVID-19 can be added to that list. If you want to improve your body’s ability to resist coronavirus then get a full 8 hours of sleep per night. Being sleep deprived can increase your chances of catching the disease and reduce your ability to heal itself if you do end up getting it.
It’s also important to continue practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask, eating healthy, and exercising to help prevent the pandemic from spreading.