Why Sleep is Your Best Friend During Cold and Flu Season
Cold and flu season is upon us, and if we’re not careful, it can take us down. Getting sick can mean weeks of derailed plans and half-finished work, not to mention the physical misery of not being able to blow your nose. While supplements, healthy eating, and a working heater and humidifier can be crucial to staying healthy, sleep is actually one of the most important factors in immune health. Read more about why proper rest is key to a healthy winter season.
“Natural Killer” Cells
According to the Center for Disease Control, “A modest amount of sleep loss (restricting the time allowed for sleep to 4 hours for one night) reduced natural killer (NK) cell activity to an average of 72%, compared with NK cell activity in participants who had a full night’s sleep.” What are “natural killer” cells? While they may sound dangerous, they’re actually our immune system’s allies, providing an immune response to viruses, pathogens, and infections, among other things. More natural killer cells means more protection against disease.
According to The Sleep Foundation, “The interaction of immune system components during sleep reinforces the immune system’s ability to remember how to recognize and react to dangerous antigens.”
Here’s how it works: during sleep, your body produces more cytokines, proteins which are associated with inflammation (which can be helpful during illness). But inflammation isn’t always helpful. “The inflammation that happens during sleep could harm physical and mental performance if it occurred during waking hours,” the article says, “so the body has evolved so that these processes unfold during nightly sleep.” More sleep means more time to let cytokines work—without inflammation interfering in your waking hours.
Sleep > Stress > Sickness
According to an article in Communications Biology, “Factors associated mostly with the modern 24/7 society, such as work and social demands, smartphone addiction, and poor diet contribute to cause the current phenomenon of chronic sleep deprivation, i.e., sleeping less than the recommended amount.” Stress and overworking can lead us to put off sleep, and poor sleep can lead to more stress. It’s a vicious cycle, which is why proper sleep should be treated as a need—not an option. While it’s easy to put off bedtime for another hour in service of getting more accomplished, your body tells a different story. The recommended hours? According to sleep experts, it’s 7-9. No more, no less.
Sleep vs. Cold and Flu Season
Washing your hands, drinking fluids, and eating healthy are crucial, but we have a few sleep-specific tips that can help you get the most out of your 7-9 hours.
Contrary to popular belief, binge-sleeping doesn’t help. According to UC Health, “Many people operate on the myth that you can ‘catch-up’ on lost sleep by sleeping more one night after one or more nights of restlessness or little sleep at all. This is not the case. Too much sleep throws off this consistency even more, making it more difficult to find quality sleep the following night.” Choose a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, especially during cold and flu season.
Choose supplements wisely
While chemical sleep aids may seem like the best way to knock yourself out and get better fast, they can also throw off your circadian rhythm in the long-term. Dream Powder contains powerful natural ingredients that won’t harm your sleep schedule, and it’s clinically shown to help 93% of people get a more restful night’s sleep and wake up refreshed.
If you do happen to get sick, sleeping with your head higher than the rest of your body is a great way to loosen up your airways. It can also help with sinus pressure and drainage. Use an extra pillow on nights when you’re feeling stuffy.
Cold weather can make your air pathways dry and raw, and hydration isn’t an option when you’re sleeping. Purchase a humidifier and keep it running while you’re asleep to keep those airways healthy and hydrated, reducing your risk of illness.
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Get the sleep you need this winter season: