Flu season is here, and this means chills, sniffles, fever, the works. Between 5 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year. Unlike the milder common cold with which it shares many symptoms, influenza is more dangerous and has the potential to lead to serious health problems. In 2017, 80,000 Americans died from it.
Flu prevention and treatment include annual flu shots, fluid intake, and plenty of rest. Sleep is another remedy. In fact, better sleep may even be able to prevent the flu. According to polls by National Sleep Foundation, people at high risk of contracting the flu are often sleep-deprived.
Sleep is known for its healing quality, and this extends to preventing and helping with the flu too. Let’s take a look at how it does it.
Sleep has a strong influence on the health of the immune system. When you sleep, your body releases cytokines that help you sleep and battle illnesses. If you don’t get enough sleep, these cytokines don’t increase how they should, and you can’t fight infections and illnesses as well. Your body is also more open to infection as your immune system is suppressed.
Annual flu shots protect you from the flu and its changing strains. They’re a necessity and are one of the best ways to keep you safe. But don’t rejoice just yet. While flu vaccines can work wonders, they offer less protection if you’re sleep-deprived. This is because lack of sleep causes the body to produce fewer antibodies and respond to immunizations much more slowly. While you will be protected, it won’t be as, and you will be more vulnerable to infection during this gap.
In a study by the University of California, researchers tracked participants to see their immune response to a hepatitis B vaccine. Those who slept for less than six hours were slower to respond and were 11.5 times likelier to be unprotected by the vaccine.
Fever is the body’s way of fighting infection. By raising body temperature, it’s believed that fever may be able to kill off pathogens sensitive to changes in temperature. When you sleep, you have a better fever response. Your body is able to fight ailments like the flu better. Sleeping also helps the body conserve energy that the immune system uses to fight infection. If you get too little of it, you’ll feel even more tired, and your body won’t be able to combat illnesses properly.
While sleeping can help protect – and remedy – against the flu, it’s hard to do it. Nasal congestion feels worse, coughing seems to double, and you just feel all-around lousy. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure you get better sleep when you’re down with the flu. Here are a few –
Dry air can make a sore throat feel worse and clog your nasal passage. When you have the flu, use a humidifier to add some moisture to the air. It will moisturize your nose and throat and make breathing easier.
A hot shower works a little like a humidifier. It loosens dried mucus and opens up passages and airways. It also helps you relax so that you sleep better.
Lying horizontally leads to the build-up of postnasal drip that can clog the throat and trigger coughs. You should prop yourself with pillows so that your head is higher than your body. You can also use a wedge pillow.
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No amount of showers and humidifiers will help you sleep if your bedroom isn’t comfortable. Close the curtains to block out light and use earplugs to silence the noise. Spray a little peppermint essential oil on your pillow to aid decongestion. You should also use the best mattress possible to provide comfort and support.
Nuvanna is a mattress that’s designed to provide the right balance of comfort and support. It’s designed by an expert in the industry with decades of experience. It features three layers that combine to ensure the best sleep possible. The top layer comprises phase-changing gel particles that draw heat away and keep your body cool. The middle layer isolates motion so that you and your partner aren’t disturbed by each other’s movements. The bottom layer uses a Progressive Support System that keeps the spine and body supported.
It’s ironic that the flu season coincides with the happy holiday season! The good news is that there are ways you can protect yourself. Flu shots, washing hands regularly, and staying away from people with the flu are a few. Getting enough sleep is another. You should try to get a full night’s rest each night even if you aren’t ill. Your immune system will thank you and so will your health!