Sick season is among us. In recent studies, Aric Prather, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, found we are four times as likely to get sick if we are not getting sufficient sleep (adults sleeping six hours or less a night). Prather adds “These results lend support to the idea that sleep is critical to health. People need to make sleep a priority, not just something you do after everything else gets done.”
Other than sleeping, the best way to prevent your family from getting sick is to avoid sick people. This is pretty much impossible unless you live in a bubble, but if there is a way to avoid hanging out with friends who are sick, do so!
Some more realistic advice to prevent sickness:
1. Washing your hands, otherwise known as the “do it yourself vaccine”, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wet, lather, scrub for 20 seconds or two rounds of singing the Happy Birthday song. If soap isn’t around, use a hand sanitizer that is 60 percent alcohol.
2. Get the flu shot. The CDC advises anyone over the age of 6 months should get one to reduce your chances of getting the flu by 60 percent.
3. Do what you can to lower your stress levels or take care of yourself, mentally!
4. Studies show that people who exercise regularly get fewer respiratory infections (helps with stress levels, too!)
If you do get sick:
1. Try to avoid getting others sick as much as you can: wash your hands frequently, possibly wear a mask, and stay home from work.
2. Get rest. If you feel like you just need to lay down, do it! Your body is telling you what you need (harder said than done with kids, I know!). The feeling where you just want to rest is brought on by inflammatory cytokines which are proteins your immune system makes when it’s fighting a sickness. “We think that the cytokines act on the brain to make you feel tired so that your immune system has more energy to fight off the virus.” according to Prather.
3. Drink fluids to loosen mucus and stay hydrated.