Our New Lives With COVID-19

What can chronobiology and environmental therapeutics do to help sleep, mood, and health?

COVID-19 has changed our working, school, and private lives irreversibly. We have modified our daily habits to travel less, and work and study mainly from home. And we have retreated from social events and minimized our contact with others, which doesn’t make us happy or healthy.

Within a few months of the crisis, workers in our field have been able to offer a set of helpful hints and solid research results to support our sleep and mood, and resist infection.

FIRST, a Swiss study showed that the “lockdown”-induced relaxation of social schedules actually had positive effects on people’s sleep, with increasing regularity of sleep-wake patterns and longer sleep duration. However, not everyone sleeps well in this unprecedented situation, probably because of the perceived burden and anticipation of negative consequences. Here is a summary of the results, which almost surely apply to other countries as well.

SECOND, three different research groups have provided remarkably similar and straightforward tips to healthy living in these unhealthy times. All of them focus on how to support our body clock and daily rhythms. They emphasize maintaining a regular daily pattern of wake-up and bedtime, and meals and exercise, with enough exposure to morning daylight, but limits on evening light (particularly from blue-ish screens).

To these, we add an important consensus recommendation from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Task Force on Chronobiology and Chronotherapy, and the Society for Light Treatment and Biologic Rhythms:

THIRD, there may be a way of reducing the local spread of viruses indoors by increasing the concentration of negative air ions. We know that viruses can spread from person to person via droplets formed after a cough or sneeze.  It appears to be even worse indoors since the viruses stick to microparticles that are spread by air circulation.

High-density negative air ionization offers the triple benefit of creating the sensation of fresh air indoors, lifting mood and mental sharpness, and removing infectious contaminants from the air circulation.

Of further interest…

From The New York Times:

From the New Criterion, an incisive historical reminder of the origin of developing vaccines. In the thirties, a medical scientist started incubating viruses in eggs….

From the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Arts and Medicine: Did Shakespeare write King Lear when in quarantine during the plague?  This article finds many wise sayings in the play that apply to our present situation.