The Importance of Sleep

get enough sleep to stay healthy

Help Your Body Fight Colds and Flu This Season

Can you recall a time when you didn’t get enough sleep? For many of us, this happens from time to time. We stay up late studying for finals in school. Or how about those many sleepless nights after welcoming a newborn? Or maybe you suffer from the occasional bout of insomnia. Think back on one of those times. Chances are that those were also times when you were more likely to catch a cold or come down with the flu or a stomach bug.

On the flip side, ensuring you get plenty of quality sleep can be an insurance policy. It strengthens your immune system and helps your body fight off any infection or threat that comes it’s way. In addition, your body will be able to heal itself faster should you come down with something if you get plenty of rest. That’s why your doctor often orders plenty of rest and fluids when you have a cold.

But why is sleep so important to boost the immune system to avoid getting sick in the first place – and during the recovery period, should you come down with something? Your immune system uses antibodies to fight infection. Your body works the same whether you’re preventing an infection from taking hold or fighting off an illness that’s taken enough of a hold to make you feel sick. These antibodies stick to the virus and affect cells, rendering them ineffective. Your body then eliminates the virus-antibody combo. This is why you must drink plenty of fluids. It makes it easier for your body to flush them out.

This still doesn’t explain the role of sleep. Your body produces antibodies more effectively while you sleep. While asleep, your body isn’t busy doing everything it has to do as you move about your day, running around, eating, getting that papercut that requires additional resources… you get the idea. As you sleep, your immune system can work more efficiently at producing antibodies and deploying them throughout the body to fight the infection.

Remember this the next time you’re tempted to burn the candles from both ends. And use it as motivation to stay home and take a nap instead of heading to work when you’re coming down with something.