A lack of sleep is known to weigh down your immune system, and can make you more likely to fall ill after being exposed to a virus.
Sleep deprivation is so common around the world that it’s often shrugged off, making people “comfortable” with functioning on minimal sleep. According to the South African Society of Sleep Medicine, about 30 to 40% of South African adults suffer from insomnia.
A previous Health24 article mentions that there is no magic amount of sleep, and that different sleep needs depend on various factors, such as your age and your own personal basal need for sleep. However, on average, seven to eight hours is recommended to ensure your immune system doesn’t become compromised.
Sufficient sleep can boost your immune system
Sleep is critical to the immune system. Getting less than the recommended amount is not just detrimental to your physical health, but your brain health too. Sufficient sleep has been shown to boost the immune system, which can reduce our chances of developing chronic illness.
A healthy immune system can fight off infection
Studies have shown that when we are completely deprived of sleep, our immune systems are severely compromised, as reported in a 2017 study.
Another study monitored participants’ sleep patterns and found that those who were recorded as having less than five hours’ sleep per night had 4.5 times the risk of catching a cold, compared with those sleeping more than seven hours a night, according to the National Health Service (NHS).
The bottom line is that good, quality sleep is a natural immune booster and that focusing on your sleep habits is really one of the best ways to strengthen your immune system and fight off infection.
Feel like your health is deteriorating and your body is crashing? It might be that you’re losing at the sleep game and need to improve your sleep patterns. Here are some tips to sleep better at night:
- Practice a regular bedtime.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and eating a couple of hours before going to bed.
- A bedroom that is aesthetically-pleasing, i.e. without clutter, will help create a more soothing environment and help you fall asleep faster.
- Limit your phone interaction time – bright light, particularly blue light from electronics and LED bulbs can disrupt your sleep.
Apart from sleep, stress, diet and exercise, basic hygiene are also crucial for ensuring a healthy immune system. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests the following tips to protect yourself against the Covid-19 virus:
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap.
- Maintain a social distance of at least one metre between yourself and someone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or a tissue when sneezing.
- If you display symptoms of the Covid-19 virus, seek medical help.