One thing I’ve learned in my mostly unsuccessful lifelong quest to get enough sleep is that nothing helps more than feeling under pressure to do so. So learning in McKnight’s that extra sleep reduced healthcare workers’ risk of getting COVID-19 was just the incentive I needed. 

Actually, not. 

Medical research over the past decade or two has provided an endless parade of reasons like this to get more rest, but learning that bad sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, COPD, stroke, heart failure and death actually decreased my ability to sleep. I routinely lie in bed for hours with terror-stricken eyes thinking of all the ways being awake is hastening my demise. And now they say I need extra sleep, or risk contracting a deadly virus? With that on my mind, I’ll probably never sleep again.  

So for those long-term care staff who, like me, don’t find this latest news tying sleep to COVID-19 remotely helpful, I’m offering what might be a more effective alternative. Maybe instead of being startled into wakefulness and panic by yet another fear- and pressure-provoking article, a better way to relax and achieve more sleep is to know that if we’ve been vaccinated, we can sleep as poorly as we wish and still probably won’t get COVID-19. 

Speaking to all those bad sleepers out there who haven’t yet been willing to roll up their sleeves for the vaccination adventure, that’s your choice, of course. But just know that you’re one of a steadily shrinking group of holdouts who seem to be slowly coming around to the wisdom of getting the shot. As nursing home cases of COVID-19 continue to plummet, a recent survey of senior care workers reported by McKnight’s showed a 94% increase in those willing to consider it. That’s great news, not only for their individual sleep, but for the health and safety of everyone around them. 

For the chronic insomniac, getting vaccinated might be one of the rare tangible things we can do to lessen the counter-productive anxiety that comes with our condition. Because one thing I know for certain: Watching Godzilla vs. Kong just before bedtime last night was not a helpful sleep-inducement strategy. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.