Improve your Immune System with a Good Nights Sleep
Did you know that a good night's sleep plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy immune system? Our immune system is the first line of defense against viruses and infections. It consists of a vast network of cells and tissues that are constantly on the lookout for invaders. Once an enemy is spotted, a complex attack is mounted.
Plenty of good quality sleep can help ensure our immune system is robust. Researchers from the University of Túbingden, found that good quality sleep can bolster T cells in your body. T cells are a type of immune cells that fight against intracellular pathogens like virus infected cells such as the flu. When cells recognise a virally infected cell they activate integrins, a sticky type of protein which allows them to attach to and kill infected cells.
Poor sleep can also result in higher levels of stress hormones. Stress hormones have the potential to decrease the efficiency of T cell immune response to kill pathogens. Stress can also alter our immune system response by decreasing the body’s lymphocytes. These are the white blood cells that help fight off infection. The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for viruses.
Lack of sleep also results in your body makes fewer cytokines. Cytokines are a type of protein that are both produced and released by cells during sleep. They interact with cells of the immune system in order to regulate the body's response to disease, infection and inflammation. They also mediate normal cellular processes in the body.
Modern life means we have numerous distractions to keep us awake at night. Making sleep a priority must be a conscious decision. If you can make a habit of going to bed at the same time every night, your mind and body will come to expect it. Have a comfortable sleeping environment, with a good quality mattress, pillow and bedding. Turn off electronic devices or put them on flight mode and allow yourself time to unwind. Sleep well and be well.