Sleepless nights can result in frequent flu
The function of sleep is to restore. And one of the reasons we need to restore our energy is the fact that when the body is rested, its immunity increases. Therefore, tiredness and fatigue favor the appearance of diseases related to the organism’s low defense.
Based on this premise, research was carried out to try to prove whether poor sleep was related to the onset of a cold. Scientists have found that people who deprive themselves of the right to get enough sleep each night are more likely to get the flu.
A North American study drew a parallel between the appearance of a cold and the few hours of sleep. The researchers concluded that individuals who sleep less than seven hours a day are three times more susceptible to the disease-causing virus than those rested for a full night of restoration.
The head of the Sleep Biology course at Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo) and physician at the Sleep Institute, Lia Rita Azeredo Bittencourt, explains how immune deficiency occurs in patients who do not have adequate and lasting sleep: “Deprivation of sleep decreases the quantity and function of cells responsible for immunity, lymphocytes, monocytes and macrophages. This leads to the appearance of infectious diseases, cancer and diminished effect of vaccines and immunizing treatments”.
She also states that other diseases resulting from immunity deficiency may be related to the few hours of sleep. Some examples are lupus, arthritis, and thyroid gland problems. Diabetes and cancer can also appear more easily in individuals who neglect the importance of good nights’ sleep and exchange the body’s rest hours for other activities, such as work and play.
In the more specific case of a cold, there are two factors that can favor the onset of the disease: the insufficient number of hours and poor sleep quality.
In the first case, it is necessary to sleep at least seven hours, with an ideal of eight hours on average, to remedy the problem. Regarding the quality of sleep, the main thing is to avoid waking up too much during the night, correctly treating problems such as loud snoring and sleep apnea.
Because sleep deprivation may be occurring exceptionally due to a non-routine event, doctors recommend that, in such cases, patients use preventative measures to prevent the low immunity from becoming the flu.
One of the ways to accomplish this is to invest in the intake of more vitamin C.
As soon as the number of hours of sleep returns to normal, it is recommended, however, that the individual continue ingesting the vitamins through fruits, to raise his immunity to a level higher than that before the sleep problem.