It's true: flu season is upon us. Coughs, chills, aches, fever, fatigue, and runny or stuffy noses...who says it's the most wonderful time of the year? It's hard to say what's worse as a mom: getting sick yourself, taking care of a sick child, or taking care of a sick husband.
But never fear! Getting the flu this year is not a foregone conclusion. The obvious preventative measure, of course, is getting a flu shot (we’ll be heading to Shoppers Drug Mart very soon) since 70 – 90% of flu cases can be averted through vaccinations.
In addition, there are several ways we can try to boost our immunity to stay healthy, contract fewer illnesses and bounce back faster when we do.
Not smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight (check, check, and check) and eating a healthy diet (hey, no one's perfect!) are all lifestyle choices that can improve immunity.
Today, however, I'd like to wax lyrical about my favourite healthy habit: getting enough sleep!
Sleep is so important for adults, and experts say that sleep deprivation can actually suppress immune system function. Obviously when there are special circumstances (e.g., feeding a baby during the night) moms can't all get the recommended eight hours. However I'm always surprised by how many women say that they just don't have time for sleep - not realizing that they would be so much more productive (not to mention healthier) during the day if they had adequate rest.
In a recent issue of Redbook magazine, Dr. Helen Koenig, an instructor of medicine and infectious disease, is quoted as saying, "Sleep allows your immune system to regenerate overnight. While you sleep, your body releases chemicals called cytokines that help you better fight infection...It isn't glamorous or sexy, but it works!"
I know it's not always easy, but common recommendations like limiting caffeine and screen time before bed and sleeping in a cool, dark room can really help. (I even tuck my alarm clock under my bed every night so the glow of the screen doesn't disrupt my sleep. For real.)
It's not just parents who need to get enough z's. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, school-aged children (Kindergarten through Grade 5) should be getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night. Do some quick math: start at the time you usually wake your children up in the morning, and count back ten hours. Are they out cold every night by that time? As a teacher, I can't even begin to tell you how important it is that kids come to school well-rested...and not just because of the impact on their immunity.
See? We take sleep very seriously!
I can promise you, much to the amusement of my book club ("It's ten o'clock! Past Kate's bedtime!") I will remain passionate about getting at least eight hours of sleep a night throughout this flu season and beyond. And of course I will be heading to Shoppers Drug Mart as soon as possible to get my flu shot.
Now for a great giveaway! One lucky This Mom Loves winner will receive an awesome Flu Fighters pack from Shoppers Drug Mart valued at $150 containing the following:
- Life Brand Hand Sanitizer
- Cough Drops
- Vaporizing Cold Rub
- Electrolyte Maintenance Powder
- Disinfectant Wipes
- PC chicken noodle soup
- PC facial tissues
- PC Feeling Soothed Tea
- $100 gift card
All you have to do to enter to win is post a tweet or Facebook update that contains all three of the following:
1. A link to this post (the one you're reading right now!) http://thismomloves.blogspot.ca/2016/11/boost-your-immunity-during-flu-season.html
2. A tag for @thismomloves
3. The hashtag #SDMflufighters
How to boost your immunity with sleep and win a $150 prize pack from @thismomloves
Feel free to use that exact tweet, but be careful with Facebook: if you copy and paste, you still need to type @thismomloves manually or the tag won't pop up and I won't be notified in order to count your entry!
The giveaway runs until Sunday, November 13th at midnight Eastern, after which time the entries will be totalled and a winner will be chosen through random number generation. Good luck...and happy flu-fighting!
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart. Opinions are, as always, my own.