How to fight coronavirus, tip #1: Sleep!

This is part of a series of articles on Covid-19, please click here to see all of them…

This is my first blog post in a couple of years, as I’ve finally found motivation to share my health advice in time of need. I moved away from Beijing four years ago but we still have family, friends and colleagues across China, and suddenly I am in the COVID-19 epicenter in the USA, here in the Seattle area. Everyone’s concerned, and there’s a slew of misinformation out there. So here’s my first in a series of tips about how to prevent and treat COVID-19.


Tip #1: Healthy Sleep (at least 7 hours)

I’ve seen a lot of articles these past few weeks discussing prevention, but none have mentioned what I feel is a clear winner: healthy sleep helps to fight virus infections. One of my favorite studies, , took 153 people and literally infected them with rhinovirus by squirting it up their noses. They followed them for five more days and measured sleep length and efficiency. The data was clear: those who got less than 7 hours were three times more likely to develop symptoms than those who slept longer. A , which showed more impressive results: those who slept under 5-6 hours were over 4 times more likely to develop symptoms than those who slept over 7 hours.

This is crucial to understand during our current severe flu season and coronavirus scare; even if we are exposed to a virus, that doesn’t mean we get symptoms. If we get good sleep, our refreshed immune system can kill off those viruses — and you won’t even know you had it.

Since don’t get the recommended 7+ hours of sleep, many of us are at higher risk for any infections. If you’re scraping by with 5-6 hours every night, try to fix that! That’s tough for many — but the data is clear, so do your best, especially over these next few weeks.

Stay safe, everyone. And feel free to leave comments, I’d love to hear how people in China are getting through all of this. Also, what else would you like to read about?


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7 thoughts on “How to fight coronavirus, tip #1: Sleep!”

  1. Great article and reminder. I miss your blog posts! My son was born in Beijing about 5 years ago during the height of the Airpocalypse days. Those posts were so helpful.

    1. Thanks! I also miss writing! I still have a lot to say, but as a father of two boys, now 5 and 7, my focus is still on family, and clinic next, then me, then everything else in life — leaving…no time to write! But this COVID-19 certainly is similar to back in Beijing with so many public health issues, so much “fake news”, so much confusion. I hope to help here. Any special COVID-19 topics you’d like to read about?

      1. Yes, the mask topic, which you just covered in your next blog post. You’re actually one of the few if only physicians to discuss details about masks. I get concerned when “experts” on TV just dismiss masks as if all masks are created equal. Unfortunately there is a shortage, but that’s a different issue.

        I would be curious about your thoughts on two other potential risk mitigation techniques; (1) Face shields; They are awkward, but at minimal, I would assume that they would prevent one from touching their own face in public. There are some kid versions as well on Amazon. (2) Gloves: I wear nitrile gloves outside because they are easier to keep clean with hand sanitizer and they remind me not to touch my face. There isn’t much info on these two topics, so I would love to hear your thoughts.

      2. Face shields work, sure, but where would you wear one in public? That’s only if someone coughs in your face, but certainly stuff could still get around. Nitrile gloves I like a lot, sure would block any germs and easy on the hands. we use both these things in clinic, and I use nitrile gloves at home with my 3D printing. But again, what’s the goal here? You seriously think this is 100% going to prevent exposure for you, forever? When will there be an “all clear” when people can take off their masks? Not gonna happen like that. Do we do this for the flu season every year? It’s the same concept, it sweeps the world and people get exposed. This is again why it’s MORE IMPORTANT to focus on just being super healthy, healthy sleep, maybe some supplements but mostly just amazing eating and healthy body.

  2. Can Masks Protect You From the Coronavirus?

    “Anna Guo and Beijing-based Dr. Richard Saint Cyr also did some tests, so I combined all of our data…Several 3M masks were able to capture over 99 percent of tiny 0.01 micron particles (10 times smaller than the coronavirus), even while on people’s face. What’s more, surgical masks were surprisingly effective, capturing 63 percent of the tiny virus-sized particles.”
    “tightly sealed surgical mask stopped 94.5% of the viral traffic, including 94.8% of the infectious viruses, the report says.

    When a poorly fitted (unsealed) respirator was used, it blocked 69.9% of flu viruses from entering the mannequin’s mouth, including 66.5% of infectious viruses, the team found. And a loose-fitting mask stopped 68.9% of the viral volume, including 56.6% of infectious viruses.

    In this case, however, a second, enhanced infectivity assay showed that only 11.6% of infectious viruses were stopped by the mask. (For the other conditions, the enhanced assay agreed fairly closely with the primary assay.)

    Neither of these provided much protection—but I would expect even an unfitted respirator to provide more protection than a surgical mask,” she added. “I think their data for the viral replicate analyses illustrate this, where the poorly fitted respirator blocked 66% of the total infectious virus while the surgical mask blocked only 11%. This is likely a result of the differences in the efficiencies of the filters (not the fit).”

    ^Don’t have link to full article quoted, but would like to know if the enhanced assay showed surgical mask could stop 95% when glued to a face, which indicates that particular surgical mask has potential filtering efficiency of N95, just that fit cannot be obtained like a properly fitted N95.

    Not mentioned about anywhere in the news, for the home or business or schools even….dry steam vapor cleaning, good for allergy sufferers also. Seeing Dr Oz tell everyone not to use Purell/wipes but instead a spray disinfection aerosol can to clean surfaces…uggh, buy a dry steam vapor cleaner and keep the chemicals to a minimum in the home!


    “The flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses that have similar symptoms,” Dr. Macklin E. Guzman, DHSc, MPH, epidemiologist, global health expert and medi-weightloss principal clinical scientist…

    Household members should wear a facemask around the patient and stay in a separate room and be separated as much as possible. Visitors should also be prohibited in the home, and patients should not care for household pets while sick.”

    ^The ‘experts’ can’t seem to agree, the Surgeon General is busy on Foxnews saying healthy people shouldn’t be using facemasks, only heathcare workers in high risk areas. And yet, here we have another ‘expert’ saying to wear a mask at home with infected patients…so which is it?


    September 3, 2019
    N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel
    A Randomized Clinical Trial

    ^not definitive, but interesting results…could it be that health care ‘professionals’ even though they know how to properly wear N95, fail in some manner in their usage, such that ordinary surgical masks provide about same level of limited protection?

    1. Thanks for the comments. I can’t speak about that special mask testing but generally speaking, that Smart Air article was spot on by pointing out how well N95 filters particles 10 times smaller than COVID-19, so it’s obvious that a well fitted mask helps. But I do feel that masks should mostly be for sick people, so not to spread to others. And quite honestly, all this obsession about mask is really stressful, which in itself lowers your immune system, and it’s also very distracting from much more pertinent prevention advice, which I will be reviewing in my next blog post tomorrow.

  3. Thank you very much for your timely post ! The 2015 study was most interesting.

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A family doctor's wellness guide for China