Study Suggests Adequate Sleep May Prevent or Fight COVID-19

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In addition to wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing, some scientists believe getting a good night's rest could also help you avoid or even fight off the coronavirus.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and Carnegie Mellon University published a study that demonstrates how getting enough sleep may help someone protect themselves from COVID-19. The study notes how sleep can help the immune system fight off the common cold, and suggests sleep could do the same against the coronavirus.

Considering how the year 2020 has been, how's your sleep these days?

Getting enough zzz's might be more important than ever, according to Dr. Gary Levinson who specializes in sleep for Sharp Healthcare.

“There is definitely some science behind the fact that lack of sleep decreases your immunity and decreases your response to vaccines,” said Dr. Levinson.

Researchers gave 164 people a dosage of the common cold, then tracked their sleeping habits. The study found those who slept less than six hours a night were four-and-a-half times more likely to develop cold symptoms than those who slept more than seven hours.

“It certainly makes a whole lot of sense. Obviously, I’m biased. I’m a sleep doctor,” admitted Dr. Levinson.

San Diego residents Elyssa Anthony and Vanessa Adams have very different sleep habits.

“I don’t know if I believe that, honestly. Just because I used to sleep all the time and I would be sick all the time and then, honestly, I’ve slept less and I haven’t gotten sick as much,” said Anthony.

Adams told NBC7 she sleeps eight to nine hours and takes a nap during the day.

“I’m always telling her you need to sleep because of COVID,” said Adams.

Dr. Levinson said a person's T-cells, the soldiers that fight infections, are less effective in sleep-deprived people.

"In that respect, sleep deprivation can increase your risk of either developing the viral infection or fighting off the viral infection if you do get it,” said Levinson.

Levinson, as did the study, added how Cytokines, a category of inflammatory molecules connected to the pandemic, are also a major focus of sleep research and immunity. The study suggests that people infected with colds and influenza show worse symptoms if they have poor sleep. This is likely due to elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines that interfere with T-cells and other immune cells.

“Sleep is a big part of life and I think it’s very important that people accept that and there’s no heroics in saying you sleep a little because that doesn’t help you,” said Levinson.

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