In our current world, it’s pretty easy to prioritize daily activities and responsibilities over sleep, and all too often when it comes down to those last couple emails or catching the proper amount of zzz’s—the first is chosen. Sleep has many health benefits that researchers and scientists have been outlining for years. A good night’s sleep can help prevent cancer, reduce stress, improve your memory, lose weight, reduce your risk of depression, and boost your immune system.
A recent study from scientists at the University of Tübingen in Germany found an even stronger link than previously thought between sleep and the immune system. T cells are a lymphocyte processed by the thymus gland that actively participate in your body's ability to participate in an immune response. More specifically, T cells find and attach themselves to infected cells, thus destroying them to fight an infection. During quality sleep, a protein called the Gas-coupled reactor, responsible for adrenaline and prostaglandin, decreases to allow the T cells to work more efficiently and effectively.
Now that you know how quality sleep boosts your immune system, let’s discuss how to achieve your best night’s sleep.
Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Easier said than done, but your circadian rhythm plays a key role in regulating your sleep. Sticking to the same sleep schedule night after night and on weeks will allow your body to find its natural rhythm and achieve a regular sleep-wake cycle.
Make Sure That You Are Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep requirements vary between age groups and demographics, but most healthy adults need between 7 - 9 hours of sleep every night, and this number increases when your body is fighting a sickness. Make sure that you are going to bed early enough that you are able to get more sleep than normal if you are fighting an infection or virus.
Avoid Alcohol and Heavy Meals in the Evening
Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it won’t help you stay asleep. As alcohol is metabolized, your body switches between lighter + deeper sleep, blocking the most restorative stage of sleep—REM sleep. Wanting to learn more? Here’s our blog on How Alcohol Affects Sleep. As for food, heavy meals before bed can cause indigestion which may make it hard to sleep. We recommend a light snack and a glass of water!
Even if you are unable to get to the gym, light exercise counts! There are plenty of outlets online that will help you develop a workout plan for home. Exercise has been known to increase time spent in REM sleep which boosts immune function by allowing those T cells to operate more efficiently.
Evaluate Your Sleep Space
Your bedroom should be cool (between 60-67 degrees and should not have any noise or light that can disturb your sleep. Also, consider your mattress and bedding. Conventional mattresses and bedding are made with contain toxic chemicals like flame retardants that could have a serious impact on your health and the health of your family. As mattresses off-gas these chemicals for sometimes years after purchase, you are breathing them in while you sleep (plus, that is affecting the quality of your sleep.)
Consider switching to an organic mattress (made with materials like organic cotton, wool, and latex) that is also extremely comfortable for your healthiest sleep yet!
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