Feeling under the weather? It might be because you lack sleep. The importance of a good night’s sleep has long been publicized by doctors and health experts – and for good reason. There are several benefits of getting quality sleep, including better heart health, brain health, and longevity!
By prioritizing good sleep habits, you can help your immune system stay strong and healthy, which will lead to better overall health and well-being. Sleep is also important for proper brain function and the ability to perform cognitive tasks.
Sleep affects all areas of our health, including our immune system which is often neglected. Therefore, we need good sleeping habits. You may not realize that a chronic lack of sleep can weaken your defenses against viruses and infections.
Here’s how quality sleep can help boost your immune system:
Stress Affects Sleep – Find Ways to Destress for a Healthy Immune System
Our stress levels play an integral role in our quality of sleep. Whenever we are stressed, our automatic nervous system releases adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that regulate our heart rate and blood pressure. These hormones are responsible for our body’s natural ‘fight or flight’ response.
It is because of these hormones that we may find it difficult to sleep whenever we are feeling stressed about something. Stress also suppresses other physiological functions such as our immune system, as the body deems it unnecessary in the fight or flight response. Therefore, stress, sleep, and our immune system are all closely linked.
T Cells Become More Effective During Sleep
T cells are part of the immune system that helps fight against viruses. Our sleeping habits affect the effectiveness of the T cells. The more sleep you have the healthier they are. It’s that simple.
Research shows that adrenaline and other hormones are low whenever we are in a deep sleep and this is when the T cells become stickier, therefore they are more effective in fighting infection. Also, as explained above, the presence of the stress hormone cortisol, which is often the culprit from a lack of sleep, inhibits the T cell’s ability to function properly.
Quality Sleep Increases Production of ‘Cytokines’
Aside from T cells, cytokines are also affected by our sleeping habits. Cytokines are a type of protein that is released by our immune system while we sleep. They are needed to target infection and inflammation.
Different cytokines have different functions, such as promoting the recruitment of immune cells to a site of infection, activating immune cells to destroy pathogens, and regulating the duration and intensity of the immune response.
Having enough cytokines strengthens our immune system, and certain types of cytokines can even help us improve our sleep. A lack of sleep can lead to the low production of cytokines, making it more difficult for the immune system to ward off viruses and infections.
Anxiety, Depression, and Your Immune System
Depression and anxiety are also closely related to our sleeping patterns and therefore, our immune system. People suffering from mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression often have trouble sleeping. Insomnia is a symptom that is common among people who are depressed and have high levels of anxiety.
Exposure to constant stress and anxiety may lead to depressive behaviors and an impaired immune response, making a person feel weaker and more lethargic. As with stress, anxiety and depression can become a vicious cycle, as a person suffering from an illness may then go on and develop depression.
As you can see it is vitally important to get quality sleep, as it is an essential component for boosting the immune system. Sleep is a natural restorative process that helps the body repair and regenerate cells, which is why a good night’s sleep can improve immune function and increase the body’s ability to fight off infections. Quality sleep equals a quality you!