Your Immune System And Sleep
When it comes to keeping our immune systems healthy, one of the most important factors is also one of the most overlooked: sleep. This has been a big factor in my health since we started sending the kiddo to daycare. Sure, he’s bringing home bugs left and right, but admittedly, my biggest failure is not getting enough sleep to combat those meanies.
Quantity and quality of sleep are both important when it comes to keeping those bugs at bay. Why? There are a number of factors. First of all, your body produces certain sleep-enhancing cytokines as part of a whole concert of physiological actions that help you fall asleep. Some of these cytokines are also beneficial in fighting infections. So when you sleep less, you produce less of these helpers and are at higher risk of getting sick.
In addition to a decrease in beneficial cytokine production, sleep deprivation also reduces the total number of antibodies produced. This creates the perfect storm - just introduce a virus and you’re toast.
Experts recommend at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night for adults, and more if you feel like you might be coming down with something.
Luckily, research has shown that acupuncture is beneficial for both the immune system (read the research here) and sleep (read the research here).
We also have herbal formulas that we can individualize for you - whether you need help with sleep, your immune system, or both!
As we talked about back in February, there are other things you can do to improve your sleep:
Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet. If you can't escape a noisy environment, invest in a white noise machine, humidifier or fan to mask the offending sounds.
Stick to the same bedtime and wake time. Yes, even on the weekends! When your body has a consistent rhythm it is easier to wind down.
As part of your bedtime routine, shut off your electronics and dim the lights at least one hour before bed. Do some light stretching, read an old-fashioned book with real pages to turn, or listen to some relaxing music.
Try a hot bath with epsom salts and essential oils. The cooling of the body after a bath can help to induce sleep. Some experts suggest doing this about 2 hours before bed.
Exercise can help, but try not to do it in the evening, as it can have a rousing effect on your mind and body.
Avoid napping, if possible, especially in the afternoon, as this has been shown to disrupt nighttime sleep in some individuals.
Download the Relax into Sleep Meditation (#50 on the page) from the Meditation Oasis podcast page and listen in bed.
***This is the one exception to the no electronics rule. Get it cued up before you start your bedtime routine, and then just hit play and look away quickly!
A good night's rest is an important piece of your immune system health, as well as your overall health. Don't skimp - make it a priority!
Please feel free to talk with us about any sleep or immune system trouble you may be experiencing, we’re here to help!