As parents, we’re thrilled that our kids are back in school. At the same time, many of us dread this time of year. Every little cough or sniffle could turn into the latest round of a cold, RSV, or the flu. In 2021, that takes on a whole new meaning as we continue to battle the COVID-19 delta variant and the anticipated rise in the seasonal flu. With our bodies battling all of the above, we need our immune systems to be in tip-top shape. Good sleep can’t guarantee that you’ll never get sick, but inadequate or poor quality sleep can definitely make you more susceptible to catching a nasty cold, an irritating cough, the flu, or a breakthrough case of COVID-19.
Sleep Helps You Maintain Your Physical Health
While you’re sleeping, your body produces and releases cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that enable your body to create an immune response. If you have an infection or you’re fighting an illness, a healthy immune system will automatically intensify. Your immune system will produce and release more cytokines to help you combat an infection, injury, or illness. If you’re getting less than adequate sleep, your body produces fewer cytokines and antibodies, weakening your immune system. This means that not only are you more susceptible to getting an illness once you get an illness, but you’re also less able to fight that illness. If you’re sick, sleep helps your body conserve the energy needed to heal and return to good health.
Sleep Helps You Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Early morning and late-night fitness fanatics, this one is especially for you! Skimping on sleep makes it harder to maintain your weight or take off those few extra pounds you’ve been wanting to lose. Adequate sleep is crucial for healthy metabolism and fat loss. Getting enough sleep also reduces your risk for chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep Helps You Manage Stress and Improves Mental Health
We’ve all been there. Two hours of sleep, an early (pint-sized, screaming) alarm and then, a bowl of cereal spills at breakfast just before you’re ready to leave for work or daycare. If you’re not getting enough sleep, small stressors can turn into really big ones. This year, we’re all dealing with the additional stress that stems from the mask/no mask controversies and our unvaccinated kids being more susceptible to the more virulent strain of COVID-19. Good quality sleep (and a good quantity of it) helps you stay calm and flexible when things don’t go exactly according to plan, or your little one gets sick.
Sleep Helps You Focus and Learn
When you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to forget things and make mistakes. Whether you’re parenting, volunteering, working, or studying, sleep enables your brain to process new information, learn it and retain it.
Now is the Time to Prioritize Sleep!
If your kids’ sleep challenges are the reason you’re getting insufficient sleep, do your best to move sleep to the top of your priority list this fall. Address those challenges now! We want you and your kids to be healthy, both physically and mentally. We especially want you to have an immune system that’s in tip-top shape as we head into flu season and the winter months.
Joan is a Registered Nurse and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She has been recognized by Tuck as one of the “Best Sleep Consultants in the U.S” in 2019, 2020, and 2021. She is a graduate of the Family Sleep Institute and a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants. Whether parents are struggling with their baby, toddler, or preschooler’s naps or night sleep, Joan enjoys helping exhausted parents teach their kids to be great sleepers. To learn more about Joan’s services and the families she has helped, visit www.peapodsleep.com.
Note: Guest blog posts are shared for informational and educational purposes and may not reflect the official policy or position of SlumberPod (parent company, Dovetail Essentials, LLC), our employees, and/or contractors.