While global uncertainty and 24/7 updates may be tempting more of us to stay up and follow the news all night, skimping on sleep during a global pandemic isn’t a good idea. That’s because getting adequate sleep can help build our body’s natural defenses against illness and keep our minds healthy amidst the coronavirus crisis as well.
In terms of our physical immunity, a study from the University of Washington Medicine found that chronic short sleep shuts down programs involved in immune response. And research from the University of Tübingen in Germany found that sleep helps our immune system recover. Those scientists focused their attention on our bodies’ T cells, the white blood cells that are responsible for combating viruses and pathogens, and found that sleep deprivation reduced the efficiency of these important immune cells.
As far as keeping our minds healthy, sleep replenishes our mood, memory, decision-making, and empathy reserves, all of which are especially critical during this time of collective anxiety. Sleep also protects us from feeling lonely and isolated. Our lack of sleep can even negatively affect others: One study published in Nature Communications found that even a minute-long interaction with someone who’s sleep-deprived can make us feel more lonely ourselves.
Clearly, getting good sleep is more crucial than ever right now, but at the same time, 70 percent of people say they feel unable to disconnect from technology as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a Thrive Global original survey of 5,000 respondents that explored coronavirus pain points. And an inability to unplug could lead to missing out on ZZZ’s.
Luckily, protecting your sleep is possible by taking small, science-backed steps. Here are three Microsteps that you can try tonight that can help make getting a good night’s rest — and therefore protecting your immunity — a little easier during difficult times:
Set a news cut-off time at the end of the day. While being informed can help you feel more prepared amid a public health crisis, setting healthy limits to your media consumption can help you have a restorative night’s sleep and put the stressful news into perspective.
Before you get into bed, escort your devices out of your bedroom. Your phone is a repository of your anxieties and fears, especially in times of crisis and constant news updates. Disconnecting will help you sleep better, recharge, and reconnect to your most resilient self.
Write down a list of what you’re grateful for before bed. Writing down what you’re grateful for at the end of the day will lower your stress levels, take your mind off the news of the day, and give you a greater sense of calm at night.
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