A simple factor in fending off the flu you may not think of

It’s something most of us can relate to — the struggle to get a good night’s sleep.

But sleep isn’t only key for feeling rested and rejuvenated the next day, it can also play a big factor in avoiding catching the flu according to Copeland Healthcare medical director Dr. Nathan Thakur.

So what happens if you don’t get enough sleep?

“You are going to run your body down more and you are far more likely to unfortunately get the flu or get another illness.”

There’s no surefire answer for how much sleep you should be getting every night. Every person is different.

According to Dr. Thakur eight hours for an adult is a pretty safe bet and a bit less, between six to seven hours, for people over 50. Kids and teens on the other hand need more.

The quality of sleep is also important.

Dr. Thakur recommends a cool, calm, dark room, with blackout blinds and also avoiding caffeine or sugary drinks anytime after 4 p.m.

Another big factor is your cell phone, tablet or laptop.

“The phones act as a stimulant. The light stimulates our eyes and stimulates our cognitive receptors,” Dr. Thakur said. “It’s engaging you. It’s perking you up. These are very unhealthy environments for sleep.”

While this year’s flu seas is almost over, the latest flu report from Alberta Health Services shows a 41 per cent increase in lab confirmed flu cases in Calgary.

“I think all that shows is that flu is really unpredictable,” Dr. Jia Hu, the medical officer of health for the Calgary zone said.

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