Being healthy and having a resilient mind is crucial, especially when faced with a pandemic. Infectious diseases and viral epidemics are nothing new to humankind, however, when epidemics become pandemics, such as the novel virus (COVID19) , concerns on how to cope with such an outbreak lead to worldwide preventative measures.
Your sleep hygiene should be your priority now more than ever in order to give your body the capacity to deal with the current situation.
A resilient immune system is vital to overcome any infectious disease, and sleep is a major player in this complex process. Sleep may not cure a disease, but it promotes fast regeneration.
A lack of sleep will always worsen an illness and stress the resilience of the body and mind.
It is a scientific fact that sleep strengthens immunity and helps to fight against bacteria, viruses and even carcinogens.
In modern societies where productivity is valued above all, sleep has become associated with laziness. This unfortunate perception of sleep has misguided many people, leading to a sleep-deprived and stressed-out generation predisposed to all kinds of diseases.
Fortunately, modern medicine has begun to catch up with the regenerative powers of sleep and outlined its importance as an existential human need. It is now well-known that slogans like “sleep is a waste of time” are misleading and significantly impact public health.
Modern science is still unravelling the mechanisms of sleep, but even the ancient Greeks and Egyptians knew about its benefits. Hypnos, the Greek God of sleep and dreams, was considered the eliminator of physical and mental suffering. In ancient Greece, the first hospitals where people addressed the ailments of the human existence were shrines in which patients would enter a dream-like state of induced sleep known as enkoimesis.
Sleep and Stress
Wakefulness is necessary for the survival of any species, but it acts as fire and induces an increased state of oxidative stress. Sleep represents the remedy to recover from the daily oxidative stress and keeps our systems in equilibrium, guaranteeing a healthy body and mind. Healthy sleep has not only a healing power but it also prevents us from falling ill.
Healthy sleep can help you to embrace uncertainty better and provides you with the necessary energy to cope with something you have little control over. Resilience is the ultimate frontier in these turbulent times, and sleep is the secret to a resilient body and mind!
Regenerative Power Of Sleep
Falling into a deep and restorative sleep and benefiting from all its regenerative powers involves making some adjustments to our lifestyle habits and requires exposure to environmental time cues like natural light during the day and darkness at night. Other vital factors that trigger the onset of sleep are temperature, energy expenditure and the timing of food intake.
To create the natural ground for a sound and restful sleep, one should not look for expensive supplements and medication because the human body provides all the necessary chemicals that induce restorative sleep.
Melatonin Antiviral Properties
Since we are constantly exposed to all kinds of pathogens, evolution has equipped us with a powerful weapon against these foreign intruders. Melatonin release at night is one of the body’s ancient weapons to prevent or recover from diseases. It signals for sleep and efficiently fights infectious diseases and even cancerous cells.
Adequate levels of Melatonin have a powerful effect on the inflammatory mediators (cytokines) released during infectious diseases. It targets NLRP3 inflammasomes which are responsible for the so-called cytokine storm that can cause complications seen in viral infections.
Research in mice infected with influenza viruses indicated that Melatonin decreases the production of inflammatory cytokines and increases the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the lungs.
Complications of infectious diseases can be reduced if Melatonin levels are maintained at high levels at night. The anti-inflammatory effect of Melatonin is one of the reasons you feel better after a night of restorative sleep.
The tight relationships between sleep, Melatonin levels and immunity are well researched, and many studies have found a lower incidence of infectious diseases when people have synchronised circadian rhythms compared to people with a circadian mismatch. A lot of scientific research shows a higher rate of illnesses due to a circadian misalignment like in the case of jetlag or shift work.
Melatonin is a light-sensitive hormone released under dim light conditions by the pineal gland and reaches its maximum levels at night, between 2 am and 3 am. Melatonin release does not happen if your eyes see artificial light at night. This vital “hormone of darkness” regenerates during the daytime when our eyes are exposed to natural light frequencies.
The regeneration of Melatonin due to natural light exposure seems counterintuitive at first glance. Still, the influence of the natural light cycles on the pulsatile release of Melatonin at night can help explain why some of us might not have enough of it at night.
Body Functions During Sleep
A good night’s sleep will strengthen the immune system against any attack from bacteria, viruses or parasites and promote all repair mechanisms that guarantee full recovery from the daily oxidative stress or during a period of convalescence in the case of illnesses. Children usually have high levels of Melatonin at night, which might explain why they show only mild symptoms in COVID-19 infections.
If you want to improve your sleep, I would like to support you on this journey and share some proven lifestyle strategies that I have put together in my book, Sleep Timer.
In Sleep Timer, you can get deeper insights into how sleep works; how to assess and upgrade your sleep pattern by optimising your nutrition, physical activity, blue-light exposure, and sync your biorhythm. Unlocking these cornerstones and adjusting some lifestyle habits in your regular routine will ultimately boost your resilience to daily stressors and strengthen the immune system.
Sleep Timer is the first book that combines sleep science, evolutionary biology, biophysics and the recent advances in circadian biology to find actionable strategies for better sleep under the environmental pressure of modern societies.
The book is based on the latest sleep research and real patient experiences. It promotes self-responsibility and encourages meaningful behavioural changes to balance daily activities, which not only improve sleep at night but energy levels throughout the day.
The book is available on all Amazon marketplaces.