I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
It had been five days since returning from a three month trip. We were living in a time zone 16 hours ahead of California. I was jet lagged with a runny nose, sore throat, sinus pressure, cough, and body aches. Vitamin C megadosing, sun bathing, and earthing were only scratching the surface. I just wasn’t getting enough sleep.
I don’t know why I didn’t think about it sooner, but yesterday it occurred to me that I should wear ear plugs to bed. Normal neighborhood and house noises, however subtle, were waking me up earlier than I wanted. So I plugged up and covered my eyes from light. I also kept a small fan on to keep the temperature down. The summer heat was adding to this sleep deprivation.
With these simple little hacks, it was cool, dark, and quiet at night.
And damn, but I slept like a log. I woke up like a dragon from it’s thousand year slumber. I swept the blanket aside like it was piles of gold being hurled aside by the dragon’s monstrous, scaly tail. I breathed deep, loving the air as much as the reptilian beast would after such an abysmal sensory absence. Seeing the sunlight filtering through the window, I was the dragon emerging from his cave. I flexed and stretched my fresh limbs, feeling blood surge through my tissues.
The achiness was gone. My nose was no longer runny. The sinus pressure was minimized. There was just the slightest sense of head cold left. I was coughing up green phlegm, which is a good sign for me. Still rusty, but I’m on the downhill side of recovery now.
As I stretched out in the sun, I felt better and better. Sleep, I thought again as I have many times in the past, is such an effective tool for human wellness. A UPenn study showed that flies who slept more recovered and survived longer than their brethren who didn’t sleep as much. Sleep triggered the gene pathway NFkB in flies.
NFkB regulates immune response, in addition to DNA transcription and cell survival. Other studies showed that problems with this gene activation were linked to cancer, inflammation and autoimmune disease, and uncontrolled infection.
Sleep, then, as the trigger for this gene expression, has a lot to do with recovery from illness.
Once again, I can attest to this. One night of good sleep dashed away the effects of jet lag, body aches, and misery. I’m betting that one more night will do away with the rest of this pesky cold. Of course, I’m going to keep up the vitamin C dosage, sun time, and everything else.
One hint to getting good sleep if you just can’t: try staying up instead of napping. A bit of sleep deprivation can help with prolonging sleep later and increasing stimulation of NFkB, as the fly researchers found.