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Boost Your Immunity With Sleep

Jun 3, 2020

As coronavirus cases, ebb and flow for the foreseeable future—taking steps now to boost immunity may improve your body fight viruses. 

One of the most beneficial ways people can improve the immune system function by getting 7-9 hours of sleep at night. 

“Getting adequate sleep has many health benefits,” said Dr. Eric Graham, family medicine specialist and Chief of Medicine at Heartland Regional Medical Center. “Sleep deprivation lowers your adrenal and stress hormones, weakening your body’s immune system.”

For some, lack of sleep can improve with some lifestyle modifications. But for an estimated 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea, 80% of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. For those 1 in 5 Americans, feeling tired might be a daily occurrence. 

Sleep apnea is a condition in which the throat temporarily restricts breathing, and limiting oxygen to the brain. Early warning signs of sleep apnea include loud or frequent snoring, silent pauses in breathing, choking or gasping sounds, daytime fatigue, recurrent waking or insomnia, morning headaches, waking up with a dry throat, and forgetfulness.  If you or someone you love experiences these symptoms, you should talk to your primary care physician. 

Hospitals and clinics have begun resuming services, previously paused due to COVID-19, including sleep clinic studies. As we resume our entire comprehensive line of healthcare services to the public, each outpatient clinic and hospital service line will continue to comply with the enhanced infection control protocols, such as separate care areas, cleaning procedures and protective equipment guidelines,” said Graham. 

Doctors may recommend a sleep apnea test to determine the right treatment. The test can be performed from home or at a sleep disorder center. If the sleep specialist determines a patient has sleep apnea, treatments may include lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, medical devices like Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines or surgery.

One of the more common treatments for sleep apnea is using the CPAP machine. Individuals wear a mask over their nose or mouth while they sleep to deliver a constant flow of air into their noses. Surgery may be an option if the patient has enlarged tonsils or a deviated nasal septum.

Here are some easy ways to start sleeping better tonight:

  • Limit screen time before bed
  • Create a consistent bedtime and routine
  • Meditate
  • Get active
  • Use healthy ingredients for cooking your meals
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m.

Contact your primary care physician or your sleep physician to discuss any sleep-disordered breathing.