Your sleep can protect you against the virus!
- By matnedelec
- On 17/03/2020
What about you, how many hours of sleep have you got over the past couple of weeks?
During this period of intense spreading and frequent transmission of the coronavirus Covid-19, you might be looking to put all the assets on your side to protect yourself from it. France’s Prime Minister, Mr Philippe, recently asked French people to “only leave the house for essential purchases, to exercise or to vote”. Regular physical activity boosts your immunity: a first asset! These new measures add to the “barrier gestures” which are now widespread: regularly washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or into a handkerchief, using a single-use handkerchief, greeting each other without handshakes and avoiding hugs. Common hygienic gestures which are often recalled throughout an elite athlete’s season. They limit the risk of getting sick and allow the athlete to train better and more effectively than his opponents, for a final difference of 10 to 20 additional high-intensity training days per season. This is meaningful, and it may have an impact on whether being just a finalist or winning gold at the Olympic games.
But in preventing the coronavirus, sleep has not yet been mentioned. However, it does effectively boost your immune system in an acute and chronic way! A scientific study has indeed shown that people having slept less than 7 hours per night on average two weeks preceding exposition to a virus are three-times more likely to get infected than those having slept 8 hours or more. Remember the famous 7-hour threshold I mentioned in a previous post. Just one night of curtailed sleep can even make a difference. It has been shown that going to bed late (3:00 am), leading to a shorter night’s sleep induces an increased inflammatory response in the morning, as opposed to a complete night’s sleep. In other words, your sleep continuously participates in elaborating a real barrier against an actively-circulating virus. In order to have all the assets on your side, I urge you to consider the following three-part advice: physical activity, sleep, and nutrition which will be the subject of a following post. Here are some golden rules to pave the way to a virtuous circle of good habits…
Mathieu Nedelec, sport scientist in charge of research projects on sleep and recovery. I teach best practices to improve sleep and performance. I will read your answers carefully and let you know when my next posts will be published.