COVID-19: Sleep and your immune system

Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult at the best of times. But it can be even harder when you’re anxious or have something on your mind – a global pandemic, for example. Even if you’re struggling, getting a good night’s sleep could be more important than ever. Sleep is one of the most powerful ways we can boost our immune function and help us deal with stress.

Dr Steven Tucker told CNBC that in his experience as an oncologist, “the single best way people can improve their immune system is through adequate sleep. I used to say that health was based on fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and sleep. I would tell patients that these are the four pillars of health. I no longer do that,” he said.

“I can’t emphasize it enough if you want to improve your immunity, sleep is not a pillar of health but the bedrock foundation upon which all health, including immunity, is built.”

Piles of research demonstrate how food, movement, mindset, stress management and social connections impact immune function and defence against viruses, bacteria, and other infectious invaders. The most powerful and profound way to boost immunity is with sleep.

Sleep is restorative and foundational for our body’s trillions of cells to synchronize, organize and work well together. Rest is also the best way to support healing and recovery if you do get sick. Studies show that not sleeping enough increases the odds of getting a cold, as well as other infections. Research also suggests that sleep helps the immune system remember what it has seen and increases the effectiveness of vaccines.

Of course, a good night’s sleep is no cure-all. Even if you sleep well you may still get sick. But a well-rested body can mount a more vigorous immune response, so please try to get your hours in!

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