Sleep to boost your immunity

Sleep experts are urging Australians to get their 40 winks to help boost immunity.

A growing body of research suggests sleep-deprived people may have suppressed immunity, potentially putting them at greater risk of catching viruses.

“Sleep is now well understood to benefit immunity,” says Dr Moira Junge, spokesperson for Australia’s leading sleep advocate Sleep Health Foundation. “An early night may be just what you need to boost your mood and immunity and help protect yourself from illness.”

The foundation is using today’s World Sleep Day to promote good sleep practices in this time of heightened Coronavirus risk.

Dr Junge says those worrying about the virus are more at risk of sleep problems like insomnia. “It’s a vicious cycle because if you're sleep-deprived, you're more likely to be anxious and when you’re anxious you’re more likely to not be able to sleep well" she says.

“Take our advice and prioritise getting a good night’s sleep. Put down your phone, close your laptop and go to sleep” says Dr Junge.

However, if switching off a busy brain is difficult, Dr Junge offers the following tips.

Set aside a ‘worry time’ during the evening. Use this time to think about what has been happening during the day, make plans and possible solutions. Then don’t think about these things until the next day.

Keep the hour before bed as your wind down time – develop a routine that prepares your body and mind for sleep. Listen to quiet music or do relaxation. Remember that we can never shut off our mind. Our thoughts continue all the time, so try to make them calmer thoughts.

Create a favourite fantasy place. Or daydream of your favourite holiday spot. If other thoughts come in, consider them for a moment and then try to gently replace them with calm thoughts.

If you still can‘t sleep despite your best attempts at relaxing and trying to calm your thoughts, go out of the bedroom and wait until you’re sleepy and tired and then try again.

For more information visit the Sleep Health Foundations Fact Sheets.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

  • Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
  • Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
  • Pre-schoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
  • School age (6-13): 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
  • Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours

For further information, contact Sleep Health Foundation on (02) 8814 8655.