Do you ever find yourself getting sick when you’re not getting enough sleep, or struggling to get a good sleep when you’re sick? Well that’s because sleep and our immune system have a direct relationship. When your immune system is functioning properly and a threat or injury arises, it will trigger responses like fatigue, fever or pain.
How Sleep and The Immune System Are Connected
While we sleep, certain parts of our immune system turn on. There’s an increased production of cytokines, which are proteins released by white blood cells when a foreign pathogen is detected. They act like messengers for the immune system.
If you’re sick, this inflammatory response can help with recovery, which is why it’s always recommended to get as much sleep as possible when you’re sick.
When you are sick or have an infection, this can cause a lack of energy and sleepiness which why when we’re sick, we tend to sleep a lot. What’s interesting, is that studies have found that while our bodies are fighting infection, we tend to spend more time in deep sleep which is when our bodily processes slow down the most, allowing our immune system to use more energy to fight the infection.
What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
Many studies have shown that a lack of sleep can make you more likely to catch a cold or the flu, while in the long term, increase the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart problems.
How to Improve Sleep and Your Immune System
Seeing how sleep and our immune system work hand in hand, it’s important to ensure you’re getting a good night’s rest, and that means uninterrupted sleep every night. We recommend building a sleep routine so that when it’s time for bed, your body knows it’s time to relax, and renew over the next few hours.
What makes a good sleep routine?
Start with easy tasks like going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends!) This allows your body to get into its circadian rhythm and in a consistent sleep schedule. It’s also important to make sure your sleep environment is optimal for a good night’s rest. If you live in a sunny location, or during the summer, consider getting blackout blinds to not only let in unwanted light, but also to keep your bedroom at a cool temperature conducive to sleep. Our bodies naturally fall asleep and stay asleep in cooler environments because naturally, nighttime temperatures are cooler than they are during the day.
If you’re interested in learning more about setting a sleep routine, check out more tips and tricks in our blog!