Sleep is a weapon. It affects how our body functions, especially our immune system. Over the past years, studies about sleep have revealed how important it is to get quality rest at night. Studies show the links between having a quality sleep and excellent physical health.
The health of your immune system is critical to your overall physical condition. It helps treat wounds, fights infections, and protects against different other illnesses. If the immune system is down, the whole body is affected. Consistent and healthy sleeping habits can strengthen mental processes and immune functions. Lack of sleep, however, can cause problems with the immune system. Autoimmune diseases like thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus are seen to be connected with rest. Hence, it is better to understand the connection between sleep and a healthy immune system.
The immune system at work
The immune system is a complex network that defends your body from different attacks. Your body’s white blood cells identify and remove unwanted pathogens from the body. It releases cytokines or proteins that are messengers to the whole immune system to inform the body of an attack. This is why chemicals that the body emits due to immune system attacks cause redness or swelling in the body.
Sleep and the immune system
Sleep offers support to the immune system. Having quality sleep enables the immune system to defend the body efficiently. It brings effective responses to vaccines and allergic reactions.
Researches show that during sleep, components of the immune system are active. Our internal body clock often drives the activity. When a person is injured or is battling an attack, the immune system’s response can help the body recover by repairing wounds or attacking infections. However, the body inflames when the person is not actively sick during nighttime immune activity. This further strengthens the body’s adaptive immunity.
As it is known that sleep helps the brain strengthen core memory and learning, studies show that rest also does the same for the body’s immune memory. The immune system reinforces this learning while the body is asleep, and it remembers how to react to unwanted attacks. Yet, this process is automated. Hence, getting quality sleep helps balance the immune system that is important for innate and adaptive immunity.
How sleep deprivation can cause sickness
Sleep deprivation has many adverse health effects. Aside from short-term illnesses, it can also expose the body to chronic diseases like heart problems and diabetes. Infections could be higher for people who sleep less than six hours a night. Insufficient sleep could also heighten the risk of a person catching flu or the common cold.
When people with healthy sleeping habits go through inflammation at night, their body goes back to normal before they wake up. However, the inflammation persists even when the body is awake for people who do not sleep well. This shows how systemic inflammation can contribute to a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative issues, and depression. Inflammation could also be worsened by insufficient sleep, which could be linked to cancer.
While people can go through the day with a few hours of sleep, the immune system cannot recuperate. The brain could be able to operate, but the immune system needs enough sleep to recover. Hence, low-grade inflammation could worsen one’s health in the long term.
People with severe sleeping problems like insomnia, sleep apnea, and other disorders are at risk of worsening health conditions. If these problems are not addressed, they could interfere with the immune system’s defenses. This is why it is essential to consult a specialist if these problems persist, as sleeping helps the body recover in many ways.
Improving sleeping habits for a strengthened immune system
Sleeping offers many health benefits. It includes better brain function and immune system activity. Therefore, people must prioritize getting quality, uninterrupted sleep every night to strengthen the body’s defenses. Getting better sleep is a process that involves revamping routines and sleeping environments. Also called sleep hygiene consists of keeping a consistent schedule for rest, avoiding gadget use before bed, and preventing caffeine consumption a few hours before sleep time.
Those with sleep disorders similar to insomnia may try out cognitive behavioral therapy. This can help patients reduce negative thoughts while promoting healthy sleeping habits. This can also help them reduce the presence of inflammation in the body.
The body needs sleep so it can battle diseases. Lack of sleep can increase the risk of different health issues. The right amount of sleep depends on one’s age, with most adults needing seven to eight hours for a good night’s rest. Practice good sleep hygiene to get a restorative rest for a healthier you.