What is the link between sleep and optimum functioning of the immune system? Find out

Did you know good sleep hygiene is important for immunity, health, and enhanced quality of life? Read on to know more.
What is the link between sleep and optimum functioning of the immune system? Find out
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It’s not for nothing that we have been told time and again by our moms, grandmoms and even doctors that “sleep helps healing”. Scientifically it has now been proved that chronic sleep deprivation can adversely affect our immune system, making you more susceptible to colds, flu, and other health conditions. Apart from this, let me tell you that a consistent lack of sleep negatively interferes with your mental abilities. It can hamper your problem-solving skills, creativity, mood, increase your blood pressure, lead to weight gain, make you feel drowsy and irritable, and affect your balance and coordination.

Moreover, you can check it for yourself – if you have ever spent a sleepless night, you might have probably seen that you feel lethargic, grumpy, tired, unproductive, and cranky the next day. Just imagine, if one night of inadequate sleep can make you feel out of sorts, then what health consequences you may have to face with a compromised immunity in the long run!

The link between sleep and optimum functioning of the immune system

Neuroimmunology researchers at various institutes around the world have established a strong link between sleep and immune defense. It has been revealed that immune parameters like T cells and their production of pro-inflammatory cytokines peak during nocturnal sleep while the activity of cytotoxic natural killer cells peaks up during wakefulness.

Cytokines are responsible for defending our body against foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses and other illnesses. In the event of lack of sleep, our bodies don’t produce sufficient cytokines, making it difficult to fend off these invaders. That is the reason why people with a stronger immune system recover faster from illnesses than those with a compromised immune system.  

It has also been found that sleeping patterns affect the levels of leptin and ghrelin hormones. Leptin signals the mind that you have eaten enough while ghrelin is an appetite stimulant. Sleep deprivation reduces the levels of leptin and raises ghrelin. This explains to us why some people tend to overeat and increase their likelihood of becoming overweight or obese.

Tips to get enough sleep
The immune system functions best when your body gets 7-8 hours of sleep every day. Having good sleep hygiene is important for improved immunity, better health, and enhanced quality of life. Moving further, I would like to share a few tips here, which you need to follow consistently to get enough sleep.

1. Stick to the same bedtime and wake up time routine every day, even on the weekends. This will regulate your body’s circadian system and eventually help you fall asleep and have a sound sleep at the same time daily.
2. Steer away from things that make it difficult to fall asleep like avoid using any kind of gadgets (mobile phones, laptops, gaming, television, etc.), at least an hour gap before bedtime.
3. Though a siesta or a power nap after lunch help most to get through the day, avoid it if you find it difficult to fall asleep at night.
4. Avoid having a heavy meal in the evening as it can disrupt your sleep.
5. Consider doing some calming activity by creating a small bedtime ritual like reading a book or meditating to allow your brain to calm down and shift into sleep mode.

By Mr. Luke Coutinho, Adviser of Integrative Lifestyle and Nutrition at Purenutrition.me.