Sleep, a natural immunity booster
By Sarah Moe, CEO of Sleep Health Specialist and AMEC member
If we were playing Jeopardy, the winning answer would be “Things My Grandmother Says When I’m Sick.” And while we didn’t know exactly why she is right, we know to listen and do as she says. There really is nothing like a homemade broth paired with long periods of rest to shake the bouts of illness, especially during the cold and flu season. But grandma’s advice can feel like bad news when you are stuck in bed missing games with friends or important meetings at work. However, here is some good news- research shows that sleep is crucially important to our immune health and plays a major role in prevention and in recovery.
While we sleep, our immune cells go to work and begin to produce the “sticky” hormones that allow us to fight off viruses and bacteria. In order for our immune cells to battle those sickness cells, they need to come in direct contact with them- think of it as a boxing match. In one corner we have an immunity cell, in another we have an illness causing cell. The closer you get to your opponent, the more likely you are to land a punch and get a knock-out. But this only happens when those “sticky” hormones are being produced during our sleep. Conversely, when we are sleep deprived, our bodies do not create those sticky hormones that allow our immune cells to fight sickness cells, which leaves them free to roam throughout our bodies and cause us to become ill.
Not only does sleep help prevent us from getting sick in the first place, it also helps us recover from illness faster. In wakefulness, our bodies will direct energy towards action or moving through our daily lives. But in sleep, all of that energy is now redirected towards healing! Our bodies initiate “fever response” in sleep - this sends available immune cells to needed areas to fight the invasion of sick cells. Sleep also restores our bodies on a cellular level, allowing us to wake up feeling slightly better each day. Lastly, it prevents us from getting up and infecting others or allowing new infections to enter our systems, so we can move back into healthy and productive times more quickly.
So while our immune system works hard for us during flu season, we need to do all we can to help boost it through restorative sleep as well. Here are some tips:
- Take a hot shower or bath before bed. The steam from the shower or bath will help break up mucus, and the warmth will help soothe and calm your body.
- Use a humidifier in your space to ensure a congestion-free night.
- Introduce a daily immunity boosting supplement to wellness routine, such as Alurx Immunity Support Tablets or Sleep Gummies with Melatonin.
Boosting our immune system and getting sufficient sleep are the safest and most effective ways to remain healthy year round, naturally. I recommend adopting a sleep ritual to build healthy habits for you and your family.