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Sleep for a Stronger Immune System

We are experiencing unparalleled times due to the COVID-19 epidemic, requiring most of us to stay at home and practice social distancing to help stop the spread of the virus within our communities.Did you know that being proactive with our health helps strengthen our immune system, keep us healthier, and help our body fight off colds and flu?

For example, adequate sleep helps strengthen our immune system and affects our bodies both mentally and physically including our mood, creativity and vivacity, our brain function and heart health, and even our ability to manage weight. The recommended amount of sleep each night for adults is 7-9 hours, but we need to listen to our bodies to identify the right amount of sleep we need, so we can have more energy during the day and better manage our emotions. If you are having trouble falling asleep at night, you may want to adjust some of your daily habits, starting with going to sleep at the same time each night to help your body develop a rhythm.

Exercising or movement during the day will give you more energy and promote a deeper sleep at night. Another habit that may affect our ability to sleep is our intake of caffeine because, similar to smoking, it is a stimulant and can disturb our sleep and our ability to fall asleep easily. Finally, you may be experiencing varied levels of stress amid the COVID-19 crisis, which can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affecting your sleep patterns. Creating a regular bedtime routine such as meditating before bed or listening to peaceful sounds may help you fall asleep easier. You may also be overstimulated during the day by news reports, which can keep you from falling asleep at night due to worry or anxiety, so try watching less TV during the day, or the number of stories you follow on social media. Adequate sleep will help you think and feel better, and boost your immune system even beyond the COVID-19 crisis. So, if you are having trouble sleeping, try experimenting with these suggested daytime habits to help you enjoy better sleep at night.

Written for the Integrative, Complementary and Traditional Health Practices Community, part of the American Public Health Association.

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