Good Sleep Habits – How They Help And What You Can Do Now

March 31, 2020 | Sleep

President, Sideline Sports Doc

Medical Director, Apeiron Life

Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

March 31, 2020

Key Points:

  • Proper sleep has a helpful effect on our immune systems
  • Improve sleep quality by avoiding screentime for at least 30 minutes before bed, or consider using blue light blocker glasses
  • Adults should avoid alcohol for at least 2 hours before bed to improve sleep quality
  • Proper room environment, such as keeping the room cool, and as dark/quiet as possible will also help

As the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. unfortunately increased this week I’d like to focus on something each of us can do now to help keep as healthy as possible while we are staying home.

The virus situation changes rapidly so I’ll once again recommend you consult the CDC website for the most up to date information. As of today, physical distancing is still the best way we have to lessen our chances of getting or spreading the virus- please pay serious attention to that along with strict hand washing.

Another thing we can do at home is to get as good a night’s sleep as possible. Sleep has many positive effects on health, including assisting our immune system. Let’s have a look at the positive effects of sleep, how much is recommended, and some tips to help you get the best night’s sleep.

Sleep Effects On The Immune System

 The “immune system” is our body’s defense against many types of harmful influences such as viruses and bacteria. It’s believed that proper sleep helps the immune system by boosting helpful substances called cytokines, which are necessary to fight off infection and inflammation.

Proper sleep has many other positive effects on the body. Not getting enough sleep, or poor quality sleep on the other hand can make it harder to fight off an illness.

Proper Amounts Of Sleep

 There’s a balance with sleep: you need enough but shouldn’t sleep too long. It’s generally recommended that we get the following amounts of nightly sleep (from the National Sleep Foundation):

  • School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17):8-10 hours
  • Adults (18-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

Tips To Improve Sleep Quality

 I wrote last week about the need to maintain emotional connections with others while we still keep physical distancing. This is particularly important for teenagers. One of the strategies recommended is to use social media to stay connected, however, the blue light emitted from computers, tablets, and smartphones has a negative effect on sleep.

Here are some tips to improve sleep quality:

  • All people: limit the use of computer screens, tablets, or smartphones for at least 30 minutes before bed. If you must use a screen consider using blue light blocker glasses, readily available online or in drugstores.
  • Adults: avoid alcohol for at least 2 hours before bed. At Apeiron Life we use FirstBeat data to track sleep and behaviors. We’ve found that alcohol consumed within 2 hours of bedtime has a huge negative effect on sleep. If you drink alcohol your best way to improve sleep is to cut it off at least 2 hours before bed
  • All people: keep your room environment sleep-friendly. It should be dark, as quiet as possible, and around 62°F – 67°F

Be safe, be well.

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