Sigurjon Kristjansson, CEO of Nox Health, recently spoke with Voices of Leaders about the fundamental value of sleep on the immune system and the renewed focus on mental health resulting from the pandemic.
Excerpts from Voices of Leaders interview
A good night’s sleep is life-changing. Yet insufficient sleep continues to be prevalent in a fast-paced society, leading to a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Over the last decade, as a society we’ve started to chip away at our sleep time. That causes all kinds of health problems, and you see it in how people feel, and in their quality of life. When we sleep, that’s when the body repairs itself, maintains cognitive health and prepares for the next day. If that doesn’t happen, we’re going to reap the consequences.
Why would we be spending eight hours a day sleeping if there wasn’t a reason for that? In essence, our entire health depends on sleep. If we start chipping away at our sleep time, or we’re erratic about when we sleep — people who’ve flown across the world know what jet lag feels like — because our circadian biological clock is at work here, we can’t just work against it easily.
But as of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen that employers are focusing more on their people now than they ever did. They are focusing on their wellbeing and mental health as well, since there’s a lot of stress. The concern about immunity or how likely someone is to get the disease, all these are areas that we help with, so sleep and mental health are tightly connected.
If you don’t have good sleep, people are going to suffer on all fronts. The impact of poor sleep on the immune system is very well known and documented. If you are sleep-deprived, you’ll be a lot more susceptible to picking up disease. In terms of the exposure to the coronavirus, you don’t want to be out and about after a poor night of sleep. This has become more top of mind for good employers to really think this way.
One of the positives of the pandemic here in the U.S. is that the evolution of telemedicine happened in a matter of weeks. Before this, everybody thought it would take a couple of decades. We expect it to stay, but the general acceptance of providing healthcare through telemedicine has skyrocketed, and we’re very excited about that.
Even prior to Covid we were building solutions and approaches based on remote management and telehealth. Our device technology for instance is the world leader in home testing, and the ability to do testing in a mobile fashion. Our care platform is based on telemedicine and telehealth.
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