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The USA is currently in a state of panic over the novel coronavirus epidemic. People are flocking to Costco and Walmart to stock up on bottled water, non-perishable food, and – for some weird reason – toilet paper.
Hysterical people like to take actions that they feel will be helpful – even if they don’t actually work. Surgical masks? They don’t do anything to stop you from getting sick, according to Dr. Michael Osterholm (author of Deadliest Enemy who recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast). Hand sanitizer? The disease is primarily airborne, meaning that washing your hands and not touching your face will do very little to protect you.
Even if you don’t think the coronavirus is a big deal, it’s important to be aware of the steps you should take if it turns out to be worse than you expect. So what can you do?
Resources mentioned in this article
- Surgical masks – Mask worn to reduce the spread of diseases
- Hand sanitizer – Prevents germs from spreading
- Dr. Oz Show – Television program hosted by Dr. Oz
- Walmart – Retail store
- Joe Rogan Experience #1439 – Interview with infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm
- Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs – Book by Michael Osterholm
Dr. Oz’s coronavirus tips
Many of Dr. Oz’s coronavirus prevention tips echo the advice given by the CDC – washing hands, avoiding close contact with infected people, and disinfecting surfaces.
Oz also recommends following general wellness measures to stay healthy and reduce your chances of catching the virus:
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night
- Meditate daily
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes every other day
- Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet
Why getting enough sleep can help you avoid COVID-19
There is evidence that sleep plays a vital role for your immune system. The Mayo Clinic claims that sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to colds and viruses. Children and the elderly – two of the groups most at-risk from the Wuhan coronavirus – are commonly sleep-deprived and can dramatically boost their immune system and reduce their risk of infection by getting adequate sleep.
A 2010 study showed an association between poor sleep efficiency and resistance to the common cold. People who slept less than 7 hours were three times as likely to catch a cold and those who spent more time awake in bed (showing poor sleep efficiency) were five times more likely to get sick.
Sleep also helps the body restore itself and recover from an infection. Deep sleep in particular seems to have the biggest effect on the immune system. This is the sleep stage where your heart rate is at its lowest, when human growth hormone is released, and it’s also when your brain clears itself of toxic substances. It’s absolutely critical to your health and well-being, whether you’re infected or not.
Your body knows when it is sick and your sleep stages adjust accordingly. Sick individuals spend more time in deep sleep and less time in the REM stage. This is because spending more time in restorative sleep stages gives your body more of an opportunity to heal itself. People who spend more time in deep sleep recover faster than those who have the same sleep architecture as they did when healthy.