Why sleep is essential for a robust immune system
The short answer is, yes, you can. Lack of sleep has a huge impact on your immune system. There has been a lot of research to show that people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold virus. And if you do get sick, lack of sleep also prolongs recovery.
So why is sleep so important?
During sleep, your immune system releases infection-fighting proteins called cytokines that protect your body against viruses and bacteria. Lack of sleep decreases these protective cytokines, making your body susceptible to illness. Sleep deprivation even makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are significantly reduced during periods of inadequate sleep.
But it’s not just your immune system that benefits from adequate sleep. As we explain in our article, ‘Why your body loves sleep‘, sleep is also essential for:
- Stabilizing blood sugar levels
- Healing bone tissue
- Brain function
- Sexual health
- Your mood
- Keeping a youthful complexion
- Keeping your heart healthy
Tips for a good night’s sleep
No screens one hour before bed
There are a number of studies to suggest how the use of technology before bed affects sleep patterns. Late-night technology users reported difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep. Reports also show that individuals who use technology within the hour before bed are also more likely to feel sleepier during the day in a range of situations, including driving. We recommend turning your phone on airplane mode an hour before bed.
Wind down with a cup of tea and a good book
There’s nothing that helps you drift off better than your favorite book and a cup of sleepy herbal tea. Book tip: we recommend reading a book that doesn’t stimulate that “monkey mind”. For example, you may want to choose a fictional novel or autobiography rather than a scientific or self-help book.
Self-massage is so underrated, but so needed! We recommend mixing your own wonderful concoction of sleep-supporting essential oils such as lavender, valerian, clary-sage, or chamomile with a carrier oil for your self-massage. Alternatively, you do not need to use oil. Spend a good 5-10 minutes massaging every part of your body, starting from your neck massaging all the way down to your toes. Pay particular attention to your feet; this has a very grounding effect before bed. Your body will feel so relaxed you will drift off within seconds.
How you spend the hour before bed is very important, not only for the quality of sleep you will have but for how much energy you will have the next day. So do your best to really switch off from all external stimuli just before bedtime to make the most of your precious hours of recharge.
Most people aren’t great at really switching off and allowing the mind and body to rest. But it is absolutely essential that we allow our body to go into recharge mode so that it can do the work to repair itself and keep us healthy.
The recommended amount of sleep for an adult is between 7-9 hours per night. So keep yourself sniffle free this season and make sure you’re catching enough shut-eye. You simply cannot achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep.