Sleep Better to Skip Flu Season

Flu season is underway in the United States, and there are indications that it’s going to be a bad one.  Right now, four states have reported widespread flu activity, and it’s said to be spreading fast.  There are a lot of things you can do to avoid getting sick, such as getting a flu shot, washing your hands, and disinfecting surfaces, but there’s one preventative measure that a lot of people don’t think about: sleep.

While a good night’s sleep doesn’t guarantee that you’ll avoid getting sick, it will increase your chances of avoiding the flu and may help shorten the time you’re out of commission.  Among the myriad of benefits of good sleep is that you’re less likely to get sick if you’re well rested.  The immune system simply doesn’t work as well when you don’t sleep enough.  Research has shown that the number of T-cells, which play a key role in the immunity system, drops when you’re sleep deprived.

Additionally, if you are unfortunate enough to get sick, you’ll find that lack of rest makes that illness worse.   When we sleep, the body’s fever response is heightened.  This will why you may notice you have a higher fever while you sleep.  Since a fever is one of your body’s ways of fighting viruses, if you don’t sleep, you may remain sick longer.

Finally, it’s been found that the flu vaccine is less effective among sleep-deprived individuals.  Vaccines are designed to trick your body into producing antibodies by introducing a weakened or dead virus, but when you’re sleep deprived your body produces fewer antibodies.

So, for the best chances of remaining unscathed by this year’s flu season, check your sleep hygiene, make sure you have the most comfortable bedding you can find, and get your flu shot.