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Sleep: The natural way to boost immunity

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Sleeping

By: Mr. ML Amarnath – Director, Enlightlife & Dr. Govardhan Singh – Senior Food Scientist, Enlightlife

There’s a saying in Irish proverb, “A good laugh and long sleep are the two best cures for anything.” And with the devastating consequences of the novel coronavirus, needless to say, we are in dire need of both. COVID-19 has reiterated the importance of maintaining a good immune system to keep us healthy and safe against viruses and diseases. Alongside a balanced and nutritious diet and regular exercising, we also sleep to boost our immune system. Sleep restores the lost energy and enables our body’s cells to synchronize, organize and work well together. It also allows the body to rest, heal and recover from illness. So, if you feel chronically fatigued, low in energy and often feel sick despite eating healthy and exercising, it is time to check your sleeping habits.  

ML Amarnath is the Founder of Enlight Life

The Sleep-Immune Tete-a-tete

Sleep acts as the third pillar to our sustainable health plan, next to good and balanced nutrition intake and exercising. While we sleep, our immune system releases cytokines that help us sleep. Lack of sleep caused reduced production of cytokines which are necessary especially when there is an inflammation in the body or the mind is under stress. Although sleep is not the cure-all medicine for all health disorders, it certainly is a natural immune booster that helps the body recover faster from sickness, helps improve immune system and helps defend viruses. Sleep plays a key role in helping immune system function efficiently and assess any threat from antigens or toxins.

Most health experts recommend sleeping at least 7-9 hours every night. Taking a 20-30 min midday nap can help in case you get less than 6 hours of sleep. This will keep you rested, make you feel better and boost your immune system. Walking up naturally calm and rested means you are getting a proper sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling anxious, shaky, sweaty or hungry, low blood sugar can be the reason. If this persists for a long time, consult a physician or sleep expert to check the actual cause.

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Coronasomnia – The new normal?

The diabolic effect of the novel coronavirus has not only caused to the socio-economic life, it has done considerable damage to one’s sleep too. Terming it as “Coronasomnia” by health experts and researchers, it has now created a new breed of chronic insomniacs resulting in reduced productivity levels, irritability, anxiety and depression, increased risk of hypertension and associated health problems. Heightened levels of stress involving increased hours of office work and household chores, taking care of children, pay cuts and lack of social interactions have upset the otherwise normal routine. It is, therefore, easy to decipher why it is difficult for people to sleep. The bedroom has turned into a makeshift office.

The effect of sleep disorders on the quality of life is enormous and must not be ignored. According to sleep physicians, delayed bed time, less hours of sleep and early wake time has disrupted the circadian rhythms of sleep cycles. Add to this the continuous exposure of the artificial light from electronic device screens at all times.  Although several companies are yet to resume normal work at office spaces, employees have now adapted to the new normal of work from home and extended work hours.

According to a study conducted by Wakefit.co, a Bengaluru-based sleep solutions start-up, about 67% Indians are now sleeping after 11 pm than prior to the start of the lockdown period and post the lockdown, 35% have started going to bed after 12 am. Many have claimed that working from home made them feel sleepier during work hours, while 67% revealed it had at least altered their sleep timings. Approximately 59% respondents said they used their beds for work while for 56%, their sleeping space is used for eating and watching online content on their devices.

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What we need currently is to maintain a consistent schedule of sleep and wake time, follow a routine where we engage in physical activities, taking short naps and cutting down caffeine intake to beat this ongoing phenomenon. Setting a bed time reminder helps. Avoid indulging in electronic devices before you sleep; put your smart phone in airplane mode or turn it off. Ensure the room is cool, quiet, and dark. Also, plan an occasional media diet and consumption of stressful news before sleep. We must not forget that while COVID-19 isn’t here to stay for eternity, our need for a good night sleep will.

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