During this time of heightened awareness about public health, it’s important to take stock of your own to make sure you’re checking all the boxes.
In order to avoid contracting the novel Coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes the importance of washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Extra precautions past washing your hands are, of course, recommended.
One way to make your immune system as strong as it can be is to make sure you are getting a solid night’s sleep. Dr. Patrick McNamara, of Psychology Today, emphasizes that getting quality sleep should be added to your list of preventative measures.
How can a good sleep routine protect you against coronavirus?
“Getting enough sleep can help protect you against all kinds of common infections and viruses,” McNamara wrote. “Sleep strengthens your body’s capacity to fight off pathogens of all kinds. We need all the help we can get in fighting this Coronovirus outbreak.”
The strength of your immune system is directly tied to the quality and amount of sleep you receive, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Studies show that adults who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. Additionally, a lack of sleep also affects how fast you recover when you are sick.
Sleep aids restoring your immune system because as you sleep your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation. Sleep deprivation is likely to decrease the production of these protective cytokines. When you don’t receive enough sleep, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced.
How to have the best night sleep
Here are tips for getting the right amount of quality sleep:
- Aim to get the right amount of sleep each night. The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 receive seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Adults who are 65 and older should receive seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
- Make your bedroom cool and dark. For most people, the ideal temperature for slumber is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use your bed only for sleeping. Doing other activities in your bed, like binge-watching Netflix, can confuse your body and brain.
- Do not consume caffeine after lunch. Caffeine has a six-hour half-life, so it actually takes a full 24 hours to get out of your system. Even if you drink your cup of coffee at 8 a.m., you will still have 25% of the caffeine in your body at 8 p.m. Any caffeine you drink in the afternoon will still be at 50% strength by the time you are ready to go to sleep.
- Avoid screens for at least an hour before you plan on turning in. Blue light, which is emitted by screens on your cell phone, computer, and tablet, and television, is known to hinder the production of melatonin. As melatonin is the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm, reducing melatonin by using your screens will make it harder to fall or stay asleep.
- Don’t fall asleep with the television on. The light from your television screen penetrates through your eyelids, which means that your brain still processes that it is being exposed to light. The confusion it causes the brain staves off achieving more refreshing stages of deep sleep.
- Sleep tracking can help you get into a healthier sleep routine. In a study, 60% of respondents said that tracking their sleep was beneficial to some degree.