Ready, steady, flu!

It would appear that the world was not ready for covid-19, but then are we ever ready for the flu outbreaks that affect the human population every year?

Alas, it would appear that public health and the Government were unable to freely communicate details, as anyone trying to access true (individual) demographics will confirm. All too often response is based on subjective opinion and conjecture and while I think its fair to say that we know we should wash our hands and not sneeze on people, there’s something we’ve been missing!

Sleep is essential to the body’s anti viral immune system.

Sleep- prevention against the flu

One of the most powerful tools that we have against getting sick and preventing illness, as well as getting better – is free and widely available, its an activity we call sleep.

Sleep is considered important as a manager of the immune response, and it is therefore reasonable that, a lack of sleep can weaken immunity, increasing organism susceptibility to infection.

It is well known that less sleep is associated with a rise in suffering from the common cold. In order to determine how sleep deprivation increases the susceptibility to viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections, the function of sleep in altering immune responses must be understood.

Why don’t we use sleep against the flu?

Scientifically, there are several explanations for greater susceptibility to infections after reduced sleep, such as impaired mitogenic proliferation of lymphocytes, decreased HLA-DR expression, the up-regulation of CD14+, and variations in CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, these have all been observed during partial sleep deprivation.

Also, steroid hormones, in addition to regulating sexual behaviour, also influence sleep.

CLICK HERE FOR REFERENCE – The Bidirectional Relationship between Sleep and Immunity against Infections

Another part of the sleep and viral infection equation is linked to its effect on fevers that are often part of the disease. Feeling flushed and hot, is a sign that your body is engaged in a fight against the virus.

Fevers tend to rise at night when you’re sleeping (and coincidentally when your body is in its repair mode). If you’re up late your body isn’t in prime fighting condition.

The antiviral effect of sleep

Those  who are skimp on sleep also aren’t getting the maximum benefit from their flu shots if they’ve had them. Along with the immune response being suppressed, the body develops fewer antibodies and it takes longer for it to respond to immunizations.

The secret is to make sure you’re getting enough deep sleep when your body is working to protect and restore you (its called restorative sleep for that reason). Sleep strengthens the immune system and helps to prevent flu infection and symptoms better and make a speedier recovery because of it.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 30% of North Americans sleep fewer than 6 hours a night – yet we know that we should aim for somewhere between 7 and 9 hours.

We intuitively know that shortchanging ourselves on sleep can have negative effects on health. Weight-gain, a stressed immune system, inability to focus and reduced memory are just a few of the short-term effects. Long term health effects from sleep deprivation include high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, and the list goes on.

If you’re one of the estimated 40.6 million adult Americans who could stand to spend a few more hours in bed each night, it’s time to make sleep a priority.

More on Flu – why we need quality sleep


Flu symptoms

Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. Many of these are similar to those of a cold, but the main difference is high fever and muscle aches.

Those are more common with the flu, which tends to comes on faster and stronger, than colds.

Colds tend toward airway congestion but are less apt to cause complications than a flu bug, which may tend toward lung infection. The CDC strongly recommends that Americans from the age of 6 months and up get a flu shot.

More than 117 million doses of flu vaccine have already been distributed for the coming season.

Sleep the magic medicine

It seems reasonable therefore, that sleep and the immune-endocrine system have a bidirectional relationship in governing various physiological processes, including immunity to infections.

As sleep is essential to the maintenance of body function stability or homeostasis, these situations must be adapted in order to change sleep patterns and other physiological considerations during the immune response to infections.

Sleep is essential to the body’s anti viral immune system.

So, let’s get through this flu epidemic by improving our sleep and in readiness for the next outbreak. We can’t stop viruses; they mutate and they are good at what they do.

The World Health Organisation finally accepted sleep as being a requirement of health and then promptly forgot about it again in 2020. CLICK HERE FOR MY OPINION.

It’s hard to break old habits – but our new habit will be to sleep better and for an adequate time – right? Our next job is to reconsider where we’re at, where we want to be and how we can overcome those things stopping us.

Dr Stephen Bray 2020

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