• Sleep Well Blog

COVID-19 has exposed this health policy gap

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

This is going to be relatively short, not that my posts are particularly long. So, here it goes. For someone who has been advocating for sleep awareness, wellness, and education, I have always said that the health care system and culture was notorious for not caring about good sleep. It's a culture that has typically viewed sleep as a luxury. Moreover, medical schools tend to have only 3-4 hours of training on sleep. It is also common to expect people to work long shifts and still perform. In fact, this attitude is part of the culture.

However, we know that sleep is critical to one's immune system and performance. While the lack of concern for sleep or for having a fatigue risk management plan has always been an issue, it can prove fatal, especially during a pandemic situation. I am not going to sugarcoat this.

If there is one thing that needs to be implemented is that there must be a policy to ensure that health care workers get the appropriate rest they need. I have been saying this for a long time and even mentioned this in a mini-course that I am developing quickly (to help people during this pandemic). Well, a few days ago, a panel member (Maria Van Kerkhove, PHD) from the WHO stated that future recommendations for health care would be the creation of such a plan because health care workers make more mistakes when they are tired. No kidding. This should have been thought about ... a long time ago. Yet, this is the stage that we are in regarding sleep awareness.

Let's hope that this policy recommendation is heeded.