Building Your Immune System for the Cold and Flu Season – Sleep

Post 3/4 on Building your immune system – SLEEP –

One of most under utilized tools to fight infection is sleep. It is generally one of the first things sacrificed when trying to get things done. 40-70million of Americans are sleep deprived, most of them are teens (and I would add moms, based on my observations)

Research related to sleep and antibodies

Research shows that getting less then 6hrs of sleep at night QUADRUPLES your chances of getting a cold. Sound familiar my parents of teens in High School and College?? When do they get the most colds? Exam time!!
A study shows that sleep deprivation decreases your body’s response to immunization. Adult subjects were given a set of immunizations, half slept as usual and half were kept up most of the night. Levels of antibodies to the vaccines were drawn. Subjects in the sleep deprivation group had far less antibodies then those who slept. This applies to colds. Less sleep = less antibodies to fight cold and flu.

Studies show that sleep is more important at protecting you from catching a cold then stress, age, smoking.





The Role of Melatonin and Sleep

Furthermore, we have increased levels of melatonin at night which is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and illness. Melatonin rises as the sun sets, which make us sleepy. When we check out snapchat and FB before bed, watch Netflix, the LED lights lower melatonin for the night which messes up our sleep.  It prevents us from falling asleep or interrupts our sleep all night long. Thus, we wake up tired even though we got 8hrs of sleep. So not only is our sleep messed up, but the level of melatonin is not high enough to fight off the germs encountered that day. Moreover, cancer rates have risen dramatically in industrialized nations where screens are prevalent and sleep is considered a chore.


What to do???? 

– put electronics away 1-2 hrs before bed

– NEVER EVER sleep with phones in your room unless you are on-call

– no TV in kids bedrooms

– don’t fall asleep with the TV on

– do homework with your phone on “do not disturb”. Fact: every time you interrupt your work to check out a text, it takes you 7-10 min to get back on task. This can add up my friends.

– dishes can wait (it took many years of practice for me to let this one go )

– laundry can wait

– Netflix can wait

– cold and flu season is here, and the virus’s and germs do not wait to take over your body

In Good Health, Ana-Maria Temple, MD

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