Sleep to Strengthen Your Immune System
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 1 in 3 adults are not getting the nightly recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. Sleep is essential, and just a few hours of sleep deprivation has been associated with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression and overall mortality.
Sleep & Its Effects on Immunity
In addition to the above effects, sleep deficit has been shown to reduce our immune response and increase our susceptibility to infection. Participants who were sleep deprived showed a significantly reduced immune response to flu vaccinations compared to those with adequate sleep in a 2002 study. In addition to this, a 2009 study showed that shorter duration and reduced sleep efficiency were associated with increased susceptibility to the common cold (rhinovirus).
Insufficient sleep has repeatedly been shown to be detrimental to our immunity. A lack of sleep seems to alter gene expression, increase stress hormones and inflammatory mediators as well as interfere with our T cells’ (immune cells that search out and destroy infection) ability to bind and destroy infectious material.
Sleep is inherently restorative and while it is common knowledge that lack of sleep can impact the efficacy of our natural defenses, recent studies are showing that a bi-directional relationship exists where infection can also alter our sleep.
Based on the existing research, it is highly recommended that 7-9 hours of quality sleep is achieved on a regular basis for optimal immune function. While sick you may naturally feel more fatigued, please honor the need for rest as your body works to defend and restore itself.
Seven Keys to Support Your Sleep
Set a strict bed time
Keep the bedroom dark, cool & quiet
Restrict the bed to sleep and sex
Leave all electronic screens outside the bedroom
Avoid screen activity one hour before bed, reserve this time for winding down (bath, reading, meditation, journaling, gratitude)
No caffeine after lunch
Use a blue light filter on screens after the sun sets (consider an app like “Twilight”)
3 Herbs and Nutrients to Support Your Sleep
Magnesium supports the calming brain chemical GABA to maintain a deeper sleep, a deficiency of magnesium often leads to a light or restless sleep while supplementation supports healthy sleep.
This delicious, gentle herb helps to act as a mild sedative to calm anxiety and improve insomnia. In study seems to be help for sleep disorders associated with menopause.
This beautiful flower has been shown to have similar effects to benzodiazepines and impact GABA receptors to elicit a relaxing, sedative effect. A study looking at the effects of passionflower as a tea showed improved sleep in healthy adults.
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