The Common Cold Prevention Sleep

One cold per year is one too many. Who needs the sniffling and sneezing, the wheezing and coughing? Believe it or not, if you get enough sleep, you can help your body battle cold viruses.

Knowing the connection between sleep and the immune system can help you reach your cold-prevention goals.

Sleep and the Immune System

Do you always feel tired and sleepy when you are sick? This is because your immune system needs you to sleep so that it can recharge and battle infection and illness.

When your body fights off an infection, your immune system produces a molecule called interleukin-1, or IL-1. One of IL-1’s jobs is to make you sleepy. IL-1 is produced in larger amounts in reaction to di-muramyl peptide, a protein. This protein is produced by bacteria when you do not get enough sleep. So, when you are sick, your body makes you want to sleep to help fight off your infection.

Even losing one good night’s sleep can have an effect on your immune system. The most important part of your sleeping cycle to your immune system is REM, or rapid eye movement, sleep. During this part of your sleep cycle, your immune system works to repair your body, making sleep a very important part of avoiding colds and other illnesses.

Cold Prevention and Sleep Tips

What are some sleep tips that will help you snooze better? Here are some suggestions:

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. These substances can help prevent you from falling asleep and can also make it hard to stay asleep through the night
  • Avoid naps if they make it harder for you to sleep at night. If you have to take a nap, keep it to about 30 minutes and nap during the mid-afternoon if possible.
  • Do not eat or drink a lot just before you go to bed.
  • Do not use your bedroom as an entertainment center for you and your family. Your bedroom should be used for sleeping and for sex, not for watching television or DVDs.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably at least two hours before you are planning on going to bed. When you exercise regularly, you will not only be helping yourself sleep better, but you will also be building up your cardiovascular health and helping to control your cholesterol levels.
  • Go to sleep at the same time every day, including on the weekends.
  • Have a regular routine every night before you go to bed that relaxes you. This might include taking a warm bath or reading for a short period of time.
  • If you do not fall asleep within 15 or 20 minutes after going to bed, get up and stay up until you are tired.
  • If you miss a little sleep, do not stress over it. Stress can add to an inability to fall sleep.
  • If your pillows and mattress are uncomfortable, get new ones.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room.
  • Try to avoid taking sleeping pills if at all possible. If you have to take sleeping pills, take them according to your physician’s orders.

Getting enough sleep will not only help with cold prevention, it will also help your memory and will keep you energetic throughout the day.

Resources

Life Extension Foundation (2006) The Common Cold. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the LifeExtension Web site: http://www.lef.org/protocols/infections/common_cold_01.htm.

The Better Sleep Council. (n.d.) The National Sleep Foundation/Better Sleep Council Sleep Tips. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the BetterSleepCouncil Web site: http://www.bettersleep.org/OnBetterSleep/NSF_BSC_tips.asp.

The Mayo Clinic. (2007) 10 Tips for Better Sleep. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the MayoClinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sleep/HQ01387.

Sleeping Problems and Disorders. (n.d.) Sleep and the Immune System. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the SoundSleeping Web site: http://www.soundsleeping.org/articles/sleep-immune-system.htm.