Sleep and its effect on Corona virus

Sleep and its effect on Corona virus

Today I was listening to Dr Michael Mosby, a renowned author and doctor about the importance of sleep on Kim Hill Saturday morning programme. Kim is a great host and Michael has a knack for explaining complex things in a simple manner. I was fascinated by what he had to say.

The Key message

The key message I heard from this talk was that we need good sleep to produce a robust immune response against Corona Virus. When we sleep, our body produces a chemical called cytokine. Cytokines help us fight with viruses. If the body is able to produce cytokines as soon as the virus attacks, then the infection gets contained. If we fail to contain the virus early then our body goes in a “cytokine storm”. In this storm, all our vital organs start releasing large quantities of cytokines to fight the virus.  But then our vital organs start shutting down and increases our risk of dying. I understood the reason why older people are at higher risk of dying from COVID 19 is that their body doesn’t mount an early cytokine response and they go into Cytokine storm.

This talk reminded me of a research paper I had read about the role of turmeric in boosting cytokines. The paper, long before we had encountered COVID 19,  was about cytokine storm causing high mortality in viral diseases like Ebola.  The authors found Curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, blocks three types of cytokines -interleukin-1, interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF). Human trials have shown suppression of cytokine release by Curcumin is the reason why we see improvement in immune response in people who take turmeric. Their body can produce Cytokines in the early stages of viral infections like COVID 19 and reduce the risk of them going in Cytokine storm.  We are now learning turmeric is protective for the brain in those experiencing cytokine storm. Turmeric with sleep can be good for immunity.
The take-home message for all of us in these difficult times is simple:

  1. Sleep well– try and get at least 6 hours (preferably more) especially if you are in the older age group. Regular physical exercise, following sleep hygiene, sleep restriction therapy and eating a Mediterranean diet are few things that Dr Mosby says can help.
  2. Take turmeric:  Ayuspa has two preparations for turmeric Golden Milk and Capsules If you are unable to get these during lockdown mix a tsp of ground turmeric in a glass of hot milk and drink in the morning and at night. The bioavailability may not be great because of poor absorption but something is better than nothing.
Stay safe and keep well.

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Ayuspa: ayurveda Beauty Wellbeing

Dr Rachna Kumar

Rachna Kumar graduated in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery from India and has continued to develop her skills by attending regular courses in the UK, USA, New Zealand and India. She has practised Ayurveda for 20 years in New Zealand and England. She now offers specialist health and beauty services using Ayurvedic principles for women in Hamilton.