The Importance of Sleep to Help Your Body Fight Colds and Flu This Season

Can you recall a time in your life when you didn’t get enough sleep? For many of us,
this happens from time to time. We’re staying up late to study for finals in school. Or
how about those many sleepless nights after welcoming a newborn. Or maybe you
suffer from the occasional bout of insomnia. Think back on one of those times. Chances
are that those were also times when you were more likely to catch a cold or come down
with the flu or a stomach bug.

On the flip side, making sure you get plenty of quality sleep can serve as a sort of
insurance policy. It strengthens your immune system and helps your body fight off any
type of infection or threat that comes its way. In addition, your body will be able to heal
itself faster should you come down with something if you get plenty of rest. That’s why
your doctor often orders plenty of rest and fluids when you have a cold.

But why exactly is sleep so important both to boost the immune system to avoid getting
sick in the first place – and during the recovery period, should you come down with
something? Your immune system uses antibodies to fight infection. At the end of the
day, it works the same whether you’re preventing an infection from taking hold or
fighting one off that’s taken enough of a hold to make you feel sick. These antibodies
stick to the virus and affect cells, rendering them ineffective. The virus-antibody combo
can then be eliminated, which is why it is important that you drink plenty of fluids. It
makes it easier for your body to flush them out.

This still doesn’t explain the role of sleep, does it? I’m getting there. Your body produces
antibodies more effectively while you sleep. I’m no scientist, but I’m sure it has
something to do with the fact that your body isn’t busy doing everything else it has to do
as you move about your day, running around, eating, getting that papercut that requires
additional resources… you get the idea. While you are asleep, your immune system can
work more efficiently at producing antibodies and deploying them throughout the body
to fight the infection.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re tempted to burn the candles from both ends, and
use it as motivation to stay home and take a nap instead of heading into work when
you’re coming down with something.

“On the flip side, making sure you get plenty of quality sleep can serve as a sort of insurance policy. It strengthens your immune system and helps your body fight off any type of infection or threat that comes its way.”

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Good Hand Hygiene is Your Best Line of Defense Against Cold and Flu 

With cold and flu season underway, and the pandemic scares of recent years & that of the current coronavirus, we all want to do what we can to avoid getting sick. Unlike bacterial infections that can quickly be cleared up with a round of antibiotics, with sicknesses caused by viruses like the flu or the common cold, you often have to ride it out. While there are medications that can help ease your symptoms, your immune system must fight the viral infection off. Why not take it easy on your body and do what you can to avoid catching it in the first place. 

Your first line of defense to avoid getting sick this year is simple – Wash Your Hands. That’s right. The simple act of washing your hands frequently with soap and hot water limits the spread of cold and flu viruses and your chance of coming down with them. Get in the habit of washing your hands whenever you’ve been out in public, and whenever you can throughout the workday. Wash them before you eat or drink food and when hot water and soap aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 

Why is this so important? Because you are more likely to pick those viruses up with your hands than any other way. Sure, having someone cough in your face doesn’t help, but your chances of getting the flu or coming down with the common cold thanks to contact with a handrail or doorknob are much higher. You pick the virus up by moving about your day. It could be touching the handle of a shopping cart or closing a door behind you. It’s now on your hands, which isn’t a big problem by itself. It can’t enter through the skin there. 

The problem arises when you touch your face. It happens a lot more than most of us are aware of. We touch our nose, rub our eyes, or get our fingers too close to our mouth when we eat or cough. The virus makes it to a mucous membrane in any of those areas and it’s right where it wants to be. 

Why is this so important? Because you are more likely to pick those viruses up with your hands than any other way.

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