You’re in a funk
Irina Bg/Shutterstock “Whenever there’s an infection in the body, your body releases proteins, called cytokines, to help the body fight the infection,” says Partha Nandi, MD, author of Ask Dr. Nandi: 5 Steps to Becoming Your Own #HealthHero for Longevity, Well-Being, and a Joyful Life (North Star Way, September 2017). “That happens whether you have the common cold or a more serious infection, like the flu.” Knowing the nine clear signs that a cold is coming on will help you spot trouble in advance.
Studies have found that your brain recognizes those cytokines as molecular signals of sickness. “We’ve all been there,” Dr. Nandi says. “You feel like, ‘Leave me alone; I don’t want to deal with anyone.’ It’s not because you are unique, it’s because of the chemicals being produced.”
“An illness does affect mood, performance, and alertness,” says psychologist Mary Alvord, PhD, adjunct associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling down, she suggests. “Understand that this is a very specific situation. Tell yourself, ‘I have a cold, and it’s right now, it’s temporary. This won’t go on for very long,'” says Alvord.
Stock Asso/Shutterstock Cytokines have a positive impact on healing your body but they can leave you feeling lethargic, says Dr. Nandi. Your sleep pattern may even change. When you’re sick, make sure you’re getting as much sleep as possible so your body can fight the infection faster, Dr. Nandi suggests. Here are 13 secrets from sleep doctors that will help you sleep better. “In order for the brain to repair itself, you need sleep. Your immune response also needs sleep. When you have an infection, you need that sleep. Your brain needs even more rest than normal to repair itself. It’s more critical than when you don’t have an infection.”
“When you can’t breathe well, you can’t sleep as well,” says Alvord. “When you can’t sleep as well, we know that it affects your mood and alertness. [Sleep-deprived people] tend to be grouchier, and their frustration tolerance is lower.”