Have you heard the proverb “A good sleep and a good laugh are the best cures in the Doctor’s book”? As kids when we complained of body aches, cold, or just uneasiness the only remedy our mums would suggest was “sleep and everything will be fine”.
Well Science also agrees with our mums that a good sleep is the best way to get over illnesses. So, let’s understand why and how sleep affects our immunity.
To know how sleep boosts our immunity we must first understand what happens within our body when we are asleep. When asleep the energy consumption of our body and mind is minimal as there is not much physical and mental activity happening. This is when the extra or stored energy is redirected towards the immune system.Quality sleep helps our body produce and release a protein called cytokines which helps fight infections and inflammations. When asleep, these proteins along with our immunity cells get out of normal circulation and move into the lymph nodes to flush out toxic waste. Presence of these toxins in the body causes inflammation which increases the probability of catching an infection like cold or flu. A good quality sleep is therefore essential to help build and maintain a healthy immune system.
Insufficient or poor sleep quality affects the production of antibodies and proteins that fight infection. If you are already suffering from a cold or flu, then insufficient sleep will only worsen the condition and delay recovery. There are some other reasons why one mustn’t skip sleep especially during seasons when probability of catching cold or flu is high.
Ideally 6-7 hours of good quality sleep every night is sufficient to keep your immunity system in ship-shape. But before we discuss about how to attain quality sleep, we must know the reason why we aren’t sleeping well. Usually it is 1 of the 2 reasons;
If your reason is the latter one, then you must consult a sleep expert to understand the nature and severity of your condition and its medical remedies. However, if it is the former then all you need is determination and will to change your lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you create a sustainable sleep hygiene.