Most people are fond of fall and winter due to cooler weather and long breaks from work and school. However, this season is not just about relaxing and having fun with loved ones during winter breaks. Fall and winter are also known for flu and viral infections.
Being sick will certainly put a damper on having a joyful time with your family and friends. But the good news is that if you take little precautions, you can easily prevent flu and make the most of the colder months in a year.
Believe it or not, sleep is a powerful weapon to fight against the flu in any age group. While we all feel uneasy and more discomforting when sleeping with a stuffy nose and sore throat, good sleep helps the body get proper rest and also activates its natural defense mechanism to combat flu at any time of the year.
Sleep is an All-Natural Defence Mechanism
Besides medicines or other dietary supplements, sleep is crucial for recovering or preventing any type of colds, flu, viruses or influenza.
According to a health survey of colds and sleep patterns in more than 20,000 adults, it was observed that around 28% short sleepers getting five or fewer hours of sleep per night were more likely to catch a cold and 82% were likely to get flu or ear infection compared to those who get sound seven or more hours of sleep every night.
This proves that sleep deprivation is one of the major causes easily catching any sort of infections, colds or influenza. The reason for this is that lack of sleep inhibits your natural immune system to work properly. When we sleep, our body and mind “reboot” them to help different body parts to work like clockwork. Therefore, sleep is important for maintaining overall health.
How sleep helps fight flu: Starts in your bed
As mentioned above, a good night’s sleep is important to ward off any illness or flu. Now, let’s discuss how to get enough sleep to stay healthy. Given below are some basic tips to help you improve your sleep to prevent flu this season.
- Limit the caffeine intake, especially after lunchtime, as caffeine makes you feel awake while interfering with your normal sleep cycle.
- Turn off electronic devices around 2 hours before your bedtime.
- Consider installing light-blocking curtains on the windows of your bedroom.
- Look for a quality mattress online to induce better sleep.
- Ensure that your bedroom is at an ideal sleeping temperature of around 60-67 °F.
Easy ways to treat flu
In case you end up catching the flu, some simple steps can help you feel better in no time. Here are some simple tips to treat flu:
- Avoid going out of your house: If possible, try to stay indoors for at least 24 hours when you’ve caught the flu or cold. This will help you recover faster and also prevent the spreading of the virus to others around you.
- Cover your mouth: Flu spreads through the air when you cough and sneeze. So, it’s important to cover your mouth and nose with handkerchief or tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Keep washing your hands: It’s best to wash your hands frequently during flu to protect yourself and your loved ones from further infection.
- Drink enough water: Drink enough water or any other sleep-friendly beverages, like milk for faster recovery. Staying hydrated is important to keep your fever down, as well as to thin the mucus for easier breathing.
- Take zinc supplements: Try taking about 50 mg of zinc supplement per day to ease the flu symptoms. It also helps in shortening the duration of the common cold.
- Rest as long as you can: During flu, your body needs rest to fight the infection and virus in your body. So, it’s best to get enough rest and sleep to ward off the infection.
- Take steam: When you feel congested, it’s best to take steam or warm shower to let the steam loosen the troublesome mucus.
- Take ginseng: It is another great remedy to increase white blood cells and enhance the body’s immune system to tackle the virus.
Prevention is indeed better than cure. However, prevention won’t guarantee immunity. So, when it comes to the flu, it’s best to consult a health care professional within 24 hours. It is the critical time to prescribe antiviral medication like Relenza or Tamiflu to shorten the duration of the flue.
For controlling discomforting symptoms of flu or cold, over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, are prescribed to reduce fever, a decongestant is prescribed to relieve swollen tissues in the nose and/or antihistamine is prescribed to reduce sneezing, coughing and runny nose. Moreover, staying hydrated is also important to keep mucus moist and clear it out from the nose easily. Besides allopathic medicines and natural remedies, you may even rely on homeopathic remedies to relieve the symptoms of flu.
Another great flue prevention strategy is to exercise daily, eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep. Following this will help your immune system to stay active and functioning well without compromising with the body’s natural defense.
If you’re unfortunate enough to get infected by flu, instead of following grandma’s remedies, it’s best to consult your doctor. While some home remedies work wonders for common cold and flu, seeing a doctor is important for faster results.
Your body naturally craves for sleep when you’re not well or suffering from flu. So, give your body enough rest that it needs on a comforting sleep mattress. Also, speak to your doctor to find out the exact cause of the flu and to relieve its symptoms as soon as possible. Usually, doctors recommend getting rest during such infections, as sleep indeed works wonders to fight against flu.