Ah yes, “COVID-19”, the “novel corona virus”! Just reading the name most likely evokes thoughts and emotional responses in your body, which are then followed by a string of hormonal reactions that are likely inducing a decrease of your immunity as we speak. You don’t even have to be infected by the virus to be affected by it!
Our thoughts alone can affect our immune systems. That’s the power of our brains. That’s why it’s often referred to as the control center.
We’re told: wash your hands, cover your cough, don’t touch your face, don’t worry about a mask, it won’t help…WAIT! Then we’re told that you need to wear a mask AND gloves, stay 6 feet apart, don’t leave your house but make sure you “get out” and exercise and eat healthy. Clean everything in your house, and keep it clean, manage your stress (sure…)! It’s dizzying!
Did you hear the part about sleep?
Sleep 7-8 hours EVERY night or your immune system will be as non-existent as toilet paper was? In case you missed it, like most people did, here’s the scoop.
Your Immune System as a Giant Military Defense Force
Think of your immune system like a giant military defense force, the largest you could ever imagine and one that never rests. Every night when you sleep, your personal defense system is especially hard at work. For instance, remember the last time you had the flu (or maybe you had the COVID-19)? All you likely wanted to do was curl up in bed and sleep for days. Well, there is good reason for that!
Sleep fights against sickness by deploying your immune military and its arsenal of protection. While you rest, your body is waging war on the enemy infiltrators to make you well again. Destroying viruses, killing bacteria, and even obliterating cancerous tumor cells, is what your immune system does best, mostly while you sleep!
This process is so necessary to keep you alive, that your immune system continues to set off alarm signals of exhaustion, bringing in more troops until you’re better. The more sleep you get, the faster you will recover.
Your body needs sleep in order to fight illness, but it also needs sleep in order to stay healthy.
If you reduce your sleep by just a few hours for one night, your military defense system dramatically falls apart. Natural killer cells, the Navy Seals of your immune system, identify dangerous enemies, such as COVID-19, and eliminate them. Studies show that healthy people who had slept only 4 hours for a SINGLE night, had their natural killer cells reduced by 70%.
That’s seven deaths for every ten Navy Seals you have in your body after just one night of bad sleep! What’s even worse is trying to regenerate them. Once you miss out on sleep, you can’t just “catch up” by trying to sleep more the next night. The damage is already done. In fact, so much so that evidence of a damaged immune system from just a short disruption of sleep is still present up to a year later!
Studies have proven again and again that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to bolster their immune system, while children and teenagers need at least 10, if not more.
So the next time you find yourself in the middle of a pandemic, or any other time you want to keep from getting sick, consider the immense value of sleep.
Recommendations such as washing your hands and wearing a mask help keep the virus away, and are definitely a good idea (think of that as a partial wall around your body). But if just one virus gets through that wall, who is left to defend you?