Strong Immunity September: Sleep Hygiene Q&A
A good night's sleep is vital to improve your immune system. Good sleep allows your body to recharge and reset, which helps you exercise and eat better, which all ties together to boost your immunity.
Midlothian health coach Jaime Monsen went live on Facebook for a Q&A on sleep hygiene and how it affects your immune system. Watch the video below and read on for a recap.
Having trouble getting the video to play? Get troubleshooting tips here.)
- Do naps help for immunity or more so just the 7-8 hours each night?
The number one thing is the 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Naps can reduce your quality of sleep at night. Some people are ok with naps, but be cautious of the duration of your snaps. Naps in the early afternoon are best, so it's not too close to your actual bedtime, but keep them short. 15-20 minutes, not an hour or more, which will affect your nighttime rest.
- Is reading on a tablet before bed just as bad as looking at your phone before bed?
Anything that releases blue light is going to affect your circadian rhythm. It's important to get off electronics has you get closer to bed. This can be hard, so it's ok to address it slowly. You might want to start turning off electronics 30 minutes before bed, and then move to an hour, and then move to two hours. Or something like that. Your circadian rhythm is just your body's natural clock, so we don't want to affect that through the blue light.
I always tell people to think about the routine you had before bed when you were a child, or that you used to get your own children to go to bed. There was a real quality routine used to get the body calmed down and ready to rest. It's important to do the same thing for ourselves.
For those who do like to read at night, I do recommend books, as opposed to an iPhone or tablet. If you do want to read on a tablet, something like a Kindle Paperweight, which doesn't have the same blue light effect, is better than, say, an Amazon Fire tablet or iPad.
- The anxiety is killing my sleep. I sleep fine until one of my kids wakes me up in the middle of the night. Then I'm wide awake for the next two hours with my brain reeling with fears and to-do lists. How can I get my brain to shut down and stop freaking out at 3am?
This probably occurs for a ton of people, and probably even before you go to bed. First, address the anxiety throughout the day. Cognitive behavioral therapy (which we offer at PartnerMD) has been shown to help a lot. Work on positive self talk. Make lists of things to do to put it off your brain. Set a time during the day to have your "stress out moment" and write down everything that is stressing you out at that time. It's going to be a challenge to reduce your stress in the middle of the night, so it's best to try and take care of it as best you can during the day.
Obviously, this is not a quick fix, especially here in 2020. Deep breathing. Meditation. A body scan. These things can help. Proper exercise and proper nutrition are also important.
- Will my immunity be negatively affected by the time change in November? It takes me weeks to adjust.
It can, if you let it prolong. If it only takes a couple days to get adjusted, probably not. If it takes weeks, you're going to be more tired and will likely not exercise or eat as well. It's a domino effect, which is why sleep is so important. If you can, prior to the time change, go to bed slightly earlier each night.
And as the seasons change and we wake up when it's pitch black, it's really important to start associating your body with light, so as soon as you can, get outside and get your circadian rhythm back in check and expose yourself to light. Find ways to expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day.
- If I wake up after 5 hours and feel refreshed, does it matter that I didn't get 8 hours?
The rule of thumb is still 7 hours. Some people in unique categories can go both ways, slightly less and slightly over. Ask yourself some basic questions. Are you productive? Do you have enough energy? Are you falling asleep during the day? Do you find yourself having to drink coffee later in the day?
The optimal level is still going to be getting 7 hours of rest per night, so you get proper release of hormones, and I call it your body's way of cleansing itself. A great resource to use is SleepFoundation.org.
Strong Immunity September
You wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands frequently. You are doing what you need to do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19. But what can you do to reduce your risk of having a bad outcome, think serious symptoms or hospitalization?
That's what we're focusing on this September. What strategies will help boost your immune system so it's best prepared to ward off COVID-19 (and any other illness)? Check out all of our content here.