How Sunlight and Sleep can Protect You from COVID?

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How Sunlight and Sleep can Protect You from COVID?


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During lockdown as the result of COVID-19 in early 2019, mental health-related issues have taken a steep rise.

With the spread of COVID, which eventually resulted in the death of millions of people, mental health problems became a major roadblock in everyone’s lives.

This was something, which was beyond anyone’s control.

So, the medical fraternity started searching for ways and means to boost the body’s immunity.

Without wasting any further time let’s dive into the topic, “How Sunlight and Sleep can Protect You from COVID?“.

Ways to Protect Self and Others From COVID-19

• Washing your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) with soap and water or a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoiding touching your face (particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth).

• Staying home as much as possible, even if you don’t feel sick.

• Avoiding crowds and gatherings of 10 or more people.SEMrush• Avoiding all non-essential shopping and travel.

• Keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and others when out.

• Getting plenty of sleep, which helps support your immune system.

• Following all recommendations from health authorities.

How Vitamin D Fights Infection by Boosting Immunity?

Study From Hospitals. Hospital patients have been shown to recover faster when they have more access to daylight, and researchers think it may increase the number of immune cells that rally to an injury.

There’s also some evidence of a link between levels of vitamin D and some viral infections, including the flu and covid-19. But this isn’t clear cut.

One small study found that people in hospitals with covid-19 were much less likely to need intensive care if they were given high doses of vitamin D.Load WordPress Sites in as fast as 37ms!

On the other hand, another study compared vitamin D levels in people who tested positive for the coronavirus with those who didn’t and found no difference.

We’ll learn more from randomised, controlled clinical trials that are currently underway, but for now, the evidence that vitamin D supplements can prevent severe illness is pretty weak.

symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

How does Sunlight Boosts Vitamin D?

The benefits of sunlight may extend beyond its ability to slay Covid-19 outside the body.

When people are exposed to UV light, he says, this may cause changes inside the human body that both strengthen the immune system and block Covid-19 from replicating and causing severe illness.

But until recently it was not clear whether lack of Vitamin D “causes” low immunity or is merely “correlated” with it.

It’s like this – people drink lots of tea in winter, but tea consumption is not responsible for low temperatures.

As the post says, “Despite years of research into the use of Vitamin D in respiratory tract infections, there still hasn’t really been a clear, slam dunk answer that there’s a benefit.”

The good news is that we have some proof of Vitamin D’s efficacy.

While dozens of trials are on to specifically investigate the Vitamin D – Covid link, a study published in the British Society for Immunology’s ‘Immunotherapy Advances’ journal in late-November shows how Vitamin D3 improves immunity in older adults.

Fort their research, scientists used the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) that causes chickenpox.

Immunity to chickenpox is believed to last your whole life, but as you age, the immune system’s response gets dull.

So, the study looked at people in the 65 plus age group with low vitamin D levels.

The first time they were injected with a small amount of virus, the elderly subjects were slow off the mark in fighting it.

Then, they were put on a 14-week vitamin replacement regimen involving large (6400 IU) daily doses of vitamin D3.

The next time they were exposed to the virus, their immune systems fought back with alacrity.

The study concluded: “vitamin D3 replacement can boost antigen-specific immunity in older adults with suboptimal vitamin D status.”

In other words, maintaining a healthy level of vitamin D – whether with supplements or sun exposure – will protect you from all kinds of diseases. But make sure you don’t overdose.

Role of Sleep

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt daily living, researchers are taking a closer look at one requirement for health that many people take for granted: sleep.

tips for healthy sleep

And they’ve concluded, perhaps not surprisingly, that improving our sleep schedule and quality is an important part of coping with these stressful times and defending against COVID-19. 

When Donald Trump had COVID, his doctors put him on a course of medicines that included the sleep hormone melatonin.

As night falls, the body starts releasing more of this hormone into the blood to make us sleepy, James Hamblin, who is a doctor himself, write The Atlantic.

Courtesy – YouTube

How Body Reacts towards Blue Light?

Our bodies are guided by circadian rhythms, 24-hour cycles in our biology and behaviour that make us feel alert during the day and sleepy at night.

These rhythms are regulated by a special set of cells at the back of the eye, behind the rods and cones that enable our brains to construct images. They are called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, or ipRGCs for short.

ipRGCs are particularly sensitive to light in the blue part of the spectrum, including bright daylight and the light from our screens. 

They send signals to areas of the brain that control alertness. 

Just one hour of low-intensity blue light can increase reaction speeds as much as drinking two cups of coffee. 

That’s great if you aim to be awake, but not so good just before bedtime.

Role of Melatonin

It appears that melatonin has a role beyond making us sleepy, though.

It stops the immune system from going haywire – the biggest challenge in treating COVID as even mild cases turn life-threatening because of the immune system’s hyper reaction.

That might be because sleep is the body’s own “anti-inflammatory cleansing process,” perfected over millions of years of evolution.

Research on the Coronavirus shows “the virus could potentially be blocked by melatonin.” And Columbia University scientists have claimed that “intubated patients had better survival rates if they received melatonin.

Eight clinical trials are on to confirm if melatonin works against COVID, and if they are successful, “it would be the cheapest and most readily accessible medicine to counter COVID-19.”

But the point he’s making is not that you fall sick and then start dosing on hormones to heal.

No, the same thing is to listen to your body when it tells you to sleep and sleep well.

“It may well turn out that formal pandemic advice would be to wear a mask, keep distance, and get sleep… (and not) take a supplement and continue to binge Netflix and stare at your phone in bed.

Can Sleep Help my Immune System Fight the COVID?

Ample sleep supports the immune system, which reduces the risk of infection and can improve outcomes for people fighting a virus. On the other hand, sleep deprivation weakens the body’s defence system and makes people more vulnerable to contracting a virus.

Good Sleep Habits

The following tips may help improve your sleep habits:

  • Make sleep a priority, just as you would for physical activity and healthy eating.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up simultaneously every day, especially during the pandemic, when daily routines have been upended.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual such as meditating, taking a bath, listening to soothing music, or reading a book. But avoid tablets or computers that lack a blue-light filter, as using these items before bedtime can interfere with sleep.
  • Consider whether reducing caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed is helpful for you as it can interrupt sleep.
  • Spend some time outside every day (when possible), particularly getting early morning light. Stay physically active but continue to practice social distancing during the pandemic.
  • If you’re tired, take a nap but avoid long naps and avoid taking them later in the day because that can hinder your nighttime sleep.
  • If you’re in bed and can’t fall asleep, get up and do some relaxing activity until you feel sleepy. 
  • If you experience frequent sleep loss or excessive daytime sleepiness, consider discussing your symptoms with a physician. 

Sources of Vitamin D

As per the reports by Washington Post, the demand for Vitamin D supplements in December 2020 was 41.5% higher than in December 2019.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, which means the human body needs it, but can’t make it.

While some foods contain vitamin D, people have traditionally gotten most of their vitamin D from the sun: When exposed to ultraviolet light, a chemical reaction occurs in the skin that results in the production of vitamin D.

The authors of that 2019 study point out that diet, behaviour, clothing choices, and skin colour all affect vitamin D status. 

benefits and sources of vitamin D

Artificial Sources of Vitamin D?

But it’s not clear that getting vitamin D from a pill is as effective as sunlight at raising vitamin D levels in the body. 

There may be “limited absorption” from supplements, and some past work on the health benefits of vitamin D pills has been mixed. 

Even if a supplement could effectively raise vitamin D levels, it would not provide the nitric oxide boost associated with sun exposure — the one that may stop the spread of Covid-19 in the body. 

While sun exposure comes with risks, the benefits of spending time in the sun could prove to be a multi-pronged weapon against Covid-19.

Some dermatologists who have examined the benefits and risks of sunlight say, controversially, that most serious skin cancer concerns arise when people experience blistering or peeling sunburns. 

“I think the benefits of [non-burning] sun exposure may outweigh the skin cancer risks,” says Matthew Zirwas, MD, an Ohio-based dermatologist who has published research on UV light and skin disease. 

Especially amid Covid-19, he says getting some sun — not enough to burn, but enough to tan — makes a lot of sense.

Effects of Skin Tone

The darker a person’s skin, the more sun they require to make vitamin D. 

If dark-skinned Europeans in countries such as Spain and Italy avoid the sun, slather on sunscreen, and wear clothing that covers much of their body, this could partly explain why their vitamin D levels may be lower than those of the Portuguese. 

That study also points out that the light-skinned residents of Nordic countries need a little sun to produce vitamin D.

They also tend to eat diets rich in cod liver oil and other seafood sources of vitamin D. Many foods in those countries are fortified with vitamin D — all of which could explain that population’s enviable blood levels of the vitamin.

The ‘sunshine vitamin’ has been selling fast because many studies have linked its deficiency and lower immunity.

The Post cites a study from Chicago that found people who had been diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency earlier were “77% more likely” to fall sick with COVID.

Another study in Italy found that among patients who were hospitalised with acute respiratory failure due to COVID-19, 81% were Vitamin D deficient.

We strongly recommend that you should also read our blockbuster article, Are You Struggling With Sleeplessness or Insomnia?

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