Sleep and COVID-19
Sleep and COVID-19
Sleep and the coronavirus (COVID-19) should be getting talked about more, and we're going to find out all the reasons why sleep and COVID-19 should always be in the same conversation. With a potentially deadly illness spread all over the globe in a pandemic the world hasn't seen for over 100 years, health and wellness have become an increasingly hot topic. With there being spikes of COVID-19 in certain areas of the U.S., and with new variants of the coronavirus popping up, a lot of people are looking for ways to stay healthy. Sleep is a top contender for making sure we're in tip-top shape to prevent us from getting sick, or to help us fight off the symptoms of a virus, like COVID-19.
A lot is still unknown about the virus, but COVID-19 seems to be able to potentially affect anyone. The CDC warns that certain age groups, or those with certain underlying health conditions, are more at risk, making healthy habits like sleep more important than ever.
Can Sleep Help Prevent COVID-19?
The saying may be you snooze you lose, but really, you snooze you gain.
There is no proof that sleep can help prevent COVID-19, but there is a great deal of proof that sleep can strengthen and improve your immune system.
Your immune system is responsible for fighting off tiny foreign invaders to your body like allergens, bacterias, and viruses. In theory, the stronger your immune system is, the better chance you will have of fighting off all of those foreign invaders, which usually results in fewer and milder symptoms if you do catch COVID-19, the flu, or even just a regular cold.
How Does Sleep Boost The Immune System?
There is a great deal of scientific evidence that sleep and the immune system are linked. We already know that science says sleep affects just about everything about our brain and physical health, but let's look at how sleep affects the immune system specifically. Lack of sleep is already linked to weakening the immune system, which can increase inflammation.
Inflammation in the body is controlled in part by your immune system. This is why someone may swell up if they're exposed to something they're allergic to. The swelling is an inflammatory response from the immune system. Research shows that physiological processes in the body that takes place while we sleep, like cytokine responses, and neuroendocrine and autonomic pathways, are what connect sleep to the immune system. This research suggests how sleep can improve boost your immune system.
Is There Research on Sleep and COVID-19?
Research on the virus is underway all over the world. A recently published study suggested melatonin, a sleep hormone, to be "a preferable drug for treating sleep disturbances in COVID-19 patients". Scientists recommend more clinical trials need to be conducted, but melatonin does help people sleep, and their findings suggest it may be effective for helping people with COVID-19 stay asleep.
Another sleep expert just published a paper in Frontiers of Neuroscience, called, Sleep, Circadian Health and Melatonin for Mitigating COVID-19 and Optimizing Vaccine Efficacy. Not only does the author go on to suggest that sleep can help fight COVID-19, but she also notes the importance of healthy sleep for a healthy immune system.
Some tips for getting a good night's sleep are sleeping on a comfortable mattress, having the right pillows and other bedding, as well as setting the right mood for bedtime with cooler temperatures and extras like aromatherapy. You can also use a sleep tracker to track and monitor your sleep to help identify and improve sleep habits.