How Sleep Improves Your Immunity Against Diseases, Like COVID-19

We are in the midst of a global pandemic. The outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is cause for concern. 

 Coronaviruses may cause respiratory infections in humans, from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) (Source: WHO). 

 To prevent COVID-19, or Coronavirus, there are steps we can take all take. One is to boost your immunity through better sleep. Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick.

Sleep and Your Immune System

Sleep deprivation suppresses your immune system. 

 During sleep your body makes proteins called cytokines, which target infection and inflammation. Cytokines are produced and released during sleep. (Source: National Sleep Foundation). Researchers in Germany have found that sound sleep also improves immune cells known as T cells (Source: Healthline). 

 When you don’t get enough sleep, these infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced (Source: Mayo Clinic). 

 Did you know? Chronic sleep loss even makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond (Source: National Sleep Foundation).

Tips to Improve Your Sleep

There are simple steps you can take to improve your sleep and boost your immunity in the process. 

1. Get the recommended amount of sleep. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep. School-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep. 

2. If your sleep schedule is interrupted, make up for it by napping. Two naps no longer than 30 minutes each have been shown to offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system. 

3. Tackle issues that prevent you from getting quality sleep, like snoring, by seeking interventions that are proven to work. People who snore are not getting as much sleep as they think they are — and it impacts their bed partner’s health and immunity, too. People who sleep next to a snorer lose an average of an hour of sleep a night and don’t get the deep rest they need due to constant interruption. 

4. Avoid alcohol in the last hour before bed. 

5. Avoid stimulants like caffeine up to 8 hours before bed. 

6. Don’t use screens for an hour or two before sleep.

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