According to studies cited by the Oklahoman, getting to sleep will help you avoid catching a cold or flu. One figure suggests that if you get less than five or six hours of sleep a night you are four times more likely to get a cold or flu than if you get your full seven to eight hours.
Having a cold or the flu can impact sleep quality and set up a vicious cycle. The more severe your respiratory problems become as a result of the illness, the poorer the quality of sleep you will get. Lack of sleep in turn causes your illness to last longer. WebMD has some helpful suggestions about how to get a good night's sleep when you are under the weather.
- Propping yourself up with pillows helps to prevent the accumulation of post-nasal drip in your throat, which causes coughing.
- Using a humidifier in your bedroom helps keeps the air moist and thus alleviates your dried out airways, making breathing easier.
- Drinking or eating something hot helps loosen up the mucus and deals with the dried up airways. Having chicken soup to help with a cold may be a cliché, but it actually seems to work. You can also try some hot tea with honey to soothe the throat.
- Taking a hot bath or shower just before bedtime also works to break up accumulated mucus because of the hot water hitting your upper body and the steam that you breathe in.
- Taking over-the-counter cold medicines that are designed to facilitate restful sleep is also something you should try. Ask your pharmacist what is the best brand available for your symptoms.
- Avoiding alcohol during your illness is a good policy. Adult beverages tend to dry you out and can interact badly with any cold or flu medications you may be taking.
- Sleeping alone when you are coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose is just good manners. You do not want to spread the misery by either keeping your partner awake or spreading the disease.
The relationship between adequate sleep and the human immune system is currently unclear. Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation President Dr. Stephen Prescott states that the role of a restful night's sleep in helping to ward off the contraction of communicable disease has not been measured because of difficulties in measuring people's' sleep patterns. However, medical science acknowledges that the connection exists. That means that you have to pay attention to your need for adequate sleep whether you are healthy or under the weather.
When you do not get enough sleep, you are groggy, stressed, and less able to concentrate. Stress especially is a condition that can lead to all sorts of bad health conditions, including headaches, upset stomach, muscular pain, and frequent colds and other infections, according to WebMd. Stress brought on by lack of sleep can also cause insomnia, which makes for a vicious cycle.
It seems clear that getting a good night's sleep is crucial for fending off colds and flus. Your doctor will tell you that you need to keep your hands and any surface you come into contact with clean, even to the point of washing your hands every time you come into contact with another person. A good diet and plenty of exercise are also crucial for warding off the sniffles.
When you do all of the above and get enough restful sleep, you'll be secure in the knowledge that you have an extra edge, especially during cold and flu season, in staying healthy or, failing that, at least getting through a bout of illness quicker and with less misery.