The coronavirus, stress, and sleep 

Soyoun (Ashley) M., News Editor

 The Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) is conducting a sleep and stress study to understand how the stress of the coronavirus pandemic may impact the sleep of adolescents. 


HBCAC is a local coalition that raises awareness on environmental health through grassroots advocacy, education, involvement, and support. Regularly getting a good night’s sleep is often an indicator of good health. For teenagers, it is especially important because of their stage in growth and development. 


“We need sleep to function and perform efficiently throughout the day. Plenty of research shows that neurological development continues until our mid 20s. However, by not getting enough sleep, in combination with chemical and environmental stressors, our bodies become overburdened. Poor sleep schedules destroy not just our brains but also our bodies,” said Subhana Z., the leader of the study, in an email. 


This study aims to observe the impact of stressors that are brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Researchers are looking to connect sleep and stress to determine how top environmental stressors may impact the quality of sleep.


“Stress causes people to take a longer time to fall asleep due to thoughts going through one’s head when trying to fall asleep. With this lack of sleep, students feel unmotivated during the day, creating an endless cycle negatively affecting mental health,” said Molly K., who is a member of the study, in an email. 


The data will be collected through surveys, which emphasizes questions on habits and routine to understand the effects of stressors that trigger changes in lifestyles among students.


“The sleep/stress study examines the relationship between stress and sleep habits. The study directly targets high school students and is set out to determine the various stressors that each individual encounters in their daily life. Some of these daily stressors may include school related work, family stress, environmental stress, and stress that comes about from different responsibilities. The purpose of this specific COVID-19 survey is to examine the relationship between COVID-19 related stress and sleep in order to provide useful tools that can be used to decrease stress and increase sleep quality,” said Matthew M who is a member of the study, in an email. 


HBCAC has reached out to hundreds of high schoolers across Long Island. 


“As of June 11th, 883 students have completed the survey,” said Justin L who is a member of the study, in an email. 


Other than filling out the survey, students are encouraged to contribute through a focus group. 


“The focus group stems from the data we collected from our sleep and stress survey. Essentially, we would like to explicitly measure participants’ sleep based on their unique stressors in their environment. Individuals in the focus group would be answering a series of questions daily for two weeks.” said Subhana Z.


Focus groups are used in order to identify interrelations on a more personal level.  


“Students who sign up for the focus group will record specific information about how they slept the night before as well as some of the factors that might have influenced their sleep,” said Justin L. 


By understanding lifestyles, the study is looking to help students live a healthy lifestyle and develop a positive work-life balance. 


“This study will allow students to better understand their mind and body during the COVID-19 global pandemic by tracking their habits. After understanding these habits, we hope that students will make small changes in their daily routines that will benefit their sleep cycle and overall mental health, creating a healthier lifestyle,” said Molly K. 


The pandemic has significantly changed most of our lives. Through adapting to a unique environment, students can easily feel overwhelmed from academics, family, and other fundamental relations.  


“It is important for all adolescents to understand that they are not alone during this uncertain time. Mental health is a [prominent] issue that has affected every single student across the country,” said Molly K. 🔳