Covid-19 & Health Update: Sleep, Immunity, and the Pandemic

Hello everyone:

 Sleep is an important topic for all of us during these stressful times at home and abroad. This is really an enormously important issue for most of us. The first link below shows how a lack of quality sleep ignites the fight or flight response in us all night and why this can be very detrimental to your health. The second link shows how sleep is critically related to immune function. Here are some quotes:

“Sleep and the circadian system are strong regulators of immunological processes. The basis of this influence is a bidirectional communication between the central nervous and immune system which is mediated by shared signals (neurotransmitters, hormones, and cytokines) and direct innervations of the immune system by the autonomic nervous system (vagus nerve).

Many immune functions display prominent rhythms in synchrony with the regular 24-h sleep–wake cycle, reflecting the synergistic actions of sleep and the circadian system on these parameters.

 Prolonged sleep curtailment and the accompanying stress response invoke a persistent unspecific production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, best described as chronic low-grade inflammation, and also produce immunodeficiency, which both have detrimental effects on health.”

“Ambient nighttime light exposure is implicated as a risk factor for adverse health outcomes, including cardiometabolic disease. However, the effects of nighttime light exposure during sleep on cardiometabolic outcomes and the related mechanisms are unclear. This laboratory study shows that, in healthy adults, one night of moderate (100 lx) light exposure during sleep increases nighttime heart rate, decreases heart rate variability (higher sympathovagal balance), and increases next-morning insulin resistance when compared to sleep in a dimly lit (<3 lx) environment. Moreover, a positive relationship between higher sympathovagal balance and insulin levels suggests that sympathetic activation may play a role in the observed light-induced changes in insulin sensitivity.”

Bottom Line:

 Poor quality sleep is akin to playing in traffic…it ends up being highly stressful with negative impacts on heart rate, blood pressure, production of melatonin, increased insulin and decreased weight loss, blood sugar controls degenerate, increased stress hormone production and strong, negative effects on immune function, increases the sympathetic nervous system activity and blunts the vagus nerve which leads to immune dysfunction and digestive problems and much more. To improve sleep quality here are some tips:

  • After dark, wear blue blocking glasses whenever you look at ANY type of screen, including phones, computers, TV, tablets etc. to increase melatonin.
  • Schedule a regular time to go to bed, every night.
  • Have the room cool and as dark as possible.
  • Go to bed on an empty stomach and eat your last meal as early as possible.
  • Avoid alcohol at night as it will cause a rebound hypoglycemia and wake you up.

PS: New data shows that getting rid of changing the clocks twice a year is a great idea, however, we should NOT stay with daylight savings time but should stick with Standard Time…after you read this link, consider contacting your Congressional representatives and let them know the facts on this matter.


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