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Fighting Flu Season Starts in Bed

As if frigid weather and icy roads aren’t bad enough, winter also means cold and flu season.

For those hobbled aches and fever, there’s no shortage of available health information, opinions, and debate about to the spreading of germs, over-the-counter-medicines, vaccines, grandma’s “tried-and-true” cold remedy, and the effectiveness of chicken soup.

What many people don’t talk about, however, is the key to restful sleep…and its connection to fighting illness. This is not a subject to gloss over, and here’s why:

The importance of sleep:

Many medical professionals believe sleep helps your immune system produce illness-fighting antibodies. As outlined in this article published by ABC News, sleep is “…going to help the immune system combat the flu.” In addition, the article says a study of college students showed that “…those who slept eight hours a night on average produced twice as many antibodies against the flu shot as individuals who got only four hours of sleep on average.”

In this article published by Inside Science, a recent study showed a special protein is developed during sleep that researchers believe speeds up recovery. The article adds that “Prior research has shown that sleep keeps the immune system healthy and is vital to the body’s ability to battle all kinds of infections.”

Despite mounting evidence pointing to the value of sleep, many of us don’t often put enough thought into it…outside of nighttime cold and flu cough syrup.

For your best defense against illness, and your quickest path to recovery, restful sleep needs to be at the top your priorities. Following are our top tips to ensure the time you spend in bed is time spent getting better:

Quality mattress: A mattress is much more than a big cushion that you sleep on. Especially thanks to a host of new technological advancements, today’s mattresses offer a surprising number of ways to keep you comfortable and pain-free at night. Here are some highlights:

  • Support - prevents the heavier parts of your body from sinking into the mattress, which can lead to poor spine alignment and ultimately discomfort and pain
  • Conformity - shapes itself to the contours of your body to provide uniform support for better comfort
  • Weight dispersion - evenly distributes support to prevent excess pressure on a few areas of the body, helping prevent pain
  • Motion separation - helps prevent you from being disturbed, such as when your bedtime partner moves in his or her sleep
  • Added comfort benefits - many quality mattresses today also help regulate heat and moisture to maximize restfulness

Quality pillow: A supportive mattress is only half of the battle. To fully achieve proper support and correct alignment of your head and neck, you also need a quality pillow. Without a quality pillow, your spine may be aligned but your neck won’t be. This can make you susceptible to neck pain, which will rob you of sleep. For the correct support and alignment from head to toe, think of your mattress and pillow as a “system,” and choose a pillow that works with your mattress to offer the right amount of support plus the correct shape for your head and body type and the way you sleep.

Proper sleep environment: Maintaining the correct indoor temperature and humidity is vital for comfortable sleep, regardless how you feel. Typically, you should keep your indoor humidity between 30% and 50%, and an indoor temperature around 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

When sick, running a humidifier can help ease congestion when you sleep. 50% RH is still a good number to shoot for, keeping indoor humidity within the range of 40% and 60%. Regarding room temperature, 67 degrees also remains a good number, but keep plenty of blankets on hand to modulate your personal temperature depending on if you feel hot or cold.

Management of body moisture: We’ve all experienced the discomfort of breaking into a sweat when we were sick. Thankfully, this is typically good news since it may be the start of your fever subsiding and you getting back to normal. To maintain as much comfort as possible, you can choose sheets that have moisture wicking properties.

Allergen-free bed: With all the coughing and sneezing you endure when you’re sick, the last thing you need is a bunch of allergens adding insult to injury.

Your bed, if left unprotected, can act like a magnet for a wide array of allergens, including dust mites and pollen. To minimize allergens in your sleep environment, consider a mattress protector/mattress encasement, mattress pad protector, box spring cover, and pillow protector/pillow cover. These can help keep all those allergy inducers away from your nose and mouth all night.

Bed accident protection: With regard to children, bedwetting may (in some instances) be linked to an illness.

Whether linked or not, bed accidents in children, as well as spills (with children and adults) are something you want to protect against.

Why? Moisture that seeps into a mattress can lead to mold. At best, mold is an allergen that can exacerbate an already unpleasant cold or flu. At worst, some argue you might mistake some mold symptoms for the flu, leading to a potentially dangerous health situation. Your best bet is to familiarize yourself with mold allergies, symptoms, and telltale signs, as well as protect your bedding from spills and accidents.

Fortunately, a quality mattress protector, pillow protector, and box spring cover will guard against liquid as well as allergens. 

Better health in bed: The best news here is that practically all of these improvements can enhance sleep quality when you aren’t sick, helping to prevent illness in the first place.

Here are some proven Protect-A-Bed products that accomplish all of the bedding goals mentioned above, and more:

We’re confident these tips will help improve the quality of your sleep this winter…giving you a leg up on cold and flu season!

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