Protecting our health and that of those we love against the threat of COVID-19 is, without a doubt, our first priority at the moment.
The situation of health crisis in which we find ourselves is full of uncertainties and questions for everyone. This slowdown / stoppage of daily activity tests our ability to adapt to change, being essential, more than ever, to incorporate healthy habits with which to maximize our immune system. We all know about the importance of washing our hands, but did you know that sleeping well is equally vital to health?
AdSalutem Institute, explains the close relationship that exists between sleep and the immune system, in fact, it is a relationship of you to you!
Scientific evidence allows us to affirm with sufficient force that healthy sleep is essential to protect the body, mainly due to the restorative effect of sleep and the strengthening of the immune system that occurs while you sleep.
The immune system is responsible for providing defensive capacity to our body to protect us against the vast majority of infectious diseases because, among other mechanisms, it allows the detection of external pathogens and combat them until their elimination. This defensive capacity of the immune system is developed through three components: cytokines, antibodies, and T-cells.
During sleep, the body produces cytokines, a specific protein to fight viral infections, creating and coordinating a very powerful immune response. Cytokines are produced and released during the deep sleep phase, making it doubly harmful if you cannot reach sufficient levels to achieve your goal. Likewise, if sleep is not complete enough, in time and quality, the manufacture of specific antibodies to fight the virus may be affected, which again compromises our defense capacity. It has also recently been shown that, after a night of incomplete sleep, your T-cells, responsible for identifying and invading cells invaded by the virus, appear to be less efficient in their task.
Healthy sleep, that is, good sleep, is absolutely necessary to strengthen our immune system and thus be better prepared to “fight” against a possible infection. In the specific case of COVID-19, although most of the reports and studies are in the preliminary phase, the accumulated scientific evidence allows us to anticipate that sleeping well will always be beneficial.
Sleep well, protect yourself against COVID-19, but … WHAT DOES SLEEP WELL MEAN?
Sleeping well means sleeping the hours that, according to studies with very large population samples over time, correspond to us by age. But not only the hours we sleep are important, but also the quality of that sleep.
Although you can sleep for the hours corresponding to your age, depending on your state when you wake up or the state of drowsiness experienced during the day, you may not have adequately covered the different phases of healthy sleep. Each of these phases produces different benefits: the deep sleep phase (Non-REM phase) is the time in which the body repairs and recovers energy for the following day. On the other hand, the REM phase is the phase in which we take care of our mind and mood; and both phases are particularly important.
You can achieve higher quality deep sleep by avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and other toxic substances, as well as avoiding being awakened at night by noise or excessive light. Likewise, by improving healthy sleep habits and complying with the corresponding duration by age, we will improve the REM phase.
Sleep, apart from being a powerful repairing agent for the immune system, also has a beneficial role in other aspects of health, being relevant in many diseases with high prevalence in our society, such as neurodegenerative, oncological or cardiometabolic pathologies, as well as in situations of anxiety or stress.