The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has officially endorsed sleep as a proven way to get the most benefits from the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Sleep is critical for optimizing immune function,” said board certified internist Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of the best-selling book "From Fatigued to Fantastic." "One of the most powerful ways to suppress immunity is through sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that vaccines are more likely to enhance immunity if you have good sleep for a few nights before and after a vaccination."
The AASM points to a 2020 study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine showing that the flu vaccine was more effective for people who had enough sleep two nights before vaccination compared to those who didn’t have sufficient shuteye. Another older study showed a lower antibody response and less likelihood of protection among people who had less sleep before and after receiving vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B.
Dr. Kannan Ramar, M.D., president of the AASM, said that the organization recommends that adults get 7 or more hours sleep regularly to promote optimal health and build a strong immune response.
“Most people today habitually don’t get enough sleep,” said Teitelbaum, “and especially now with the stress of the pandemic, many are sleeping even less.” For these tough times, Teitelbaum emphasizes cultivating better sleep hygiene. “Whether you’re in line for a vaccination or not, getting more sleep will only benefit your immune response.”
Nancy Rothstein, MBA, known as The Sleep Ambassador, offers these tips:
- Set a consistent sleep and wake time 7 days a week. “Your circadian rhythm will appreciate a set schedule so it can support your immune system which is important as the world is exposed to COVID-19,” says Rothstein.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine that begins an hour before going to sleep. Turn off all devices and technology, take a shower or bath, or read a physical book with a dim light.
- Limit media exposure. Be sensible about what you learn about COVID-19. Do not pay too much attention to gossip. “Create boundaries around how much news you are exposed to,” says Rothstein.
- Take care of your body. Even if you are homebound, try to maintain as normal a routine as possible. Get some exercise, eat sensibly, do not drink too much alcohol, and avoid caffeine too close to bedtime.
- Keep your bed predominantly for sleep. Try not to watch television in bed or use your bedroom for work. If you cannot sleep, get up and do something relaxing in a dim light that is quiet and away from the bedroom. Go back to bed when you are ready to fall asleep.
- Meditate or pray. These practices can have a profound effect on the quality of your sleep.
For more information on the role of sleep and the vaccine response, visit Sleep Education.org.
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