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Tough out your cold. Have plenty of chicken soup. Take zinc tablets the instant you feel a scratchy throat coming on. Eat a clove of raw garlic. (Ew.) With cold and flu season entering a fever pitch, you’re bound to hear countless tips like these on how to deal with an illness. But making sure you’re getting sleep when you’re sick is the one thing you absolutely must do to get over your illness.
Getting restful, recuperative sleep is one of the best ways we can help our immune systems battle illness.
“Many of the molecules and substances that circulate in our body and also within cells overlap between immune function and sleep,” says David Rapoport, MD, director of the sleep medicine program at New York University School of Medicine. “So it’s not at all surprising that they affect each other.”
One way sleep and the immune system interact with one another is through fever. Our bodies use fever as a physiological defense to fight infection. During sleep, we can get a better fever response. That means it’s more efficient for our bodies to take on unwelcomed germs and viruses when we’re asleep.
Get sick, get to bed, get better. Sounds simple enough. Having a cold or the flu is so annoying, you wish you could just sleep through the misery and wake up after you’re feeling better. But it’s not always easy to sleep when you’re coughing, can’t breathe and you have to blow your nose every half hour.
“Many cold and flu symptoms seem to get worse at night, and they can interfere with sleep just at the critical time when your body needs rest the most,” says sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D.
Great. So now you need to find a cure for lost sleep, too?
Don’t worry. The Better Sleep Council is here to help – through sickness and in health. We’ve compiled some proven tips and strategies to improve your chances of getting better sleep when you’re sick.
This blog provides general information about sleep and sleep products. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified heath care professional. This blog should not be construed as medical advice or used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care professional. This blog is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be relied upon to make decisions about your health or the health of others. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or elsewhere on bettersleep.org. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.