By now, most of us know that getting enough sleep is essential to our body in so many ways including our metabolism, brain function, and heart health. But what we don’t always talk about is how getting enough sleep also strengthens your immunity and can help protect you from viral infections.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is still sweeping the nation, and with many businesses beginning to reopen, we want to make sure that our immune systems are in tip-top shape. That being said, catching those precious Z’s is important now more than ever.
Maybe you are the type to stay up late at night watching your favorite shows on TV, or maybe you suffer chronically with insomnia. Regardless of the reason you’re not getting enough sleep, the experts say that prioritizing good “sleep hygiene” is one of the best ways to prevent illness and keep your body in good health.
Immune cells are also known as T cells. T cells fight against intracellular pathogens, or cells that are infected with things like the flu, HIV, and of course, the coronavirus. Studies show that sleep has a huge affect on T cells. For example, one German study found that subjects who slept well had improved T cell functioning, leading to better immunity against pathogenic viruses. The researchers concluded that this is because during restful sleep, stress hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine as well as pro-inflammatory compounds were much lower during sleep, which allows T cells to do their job better.
But that’s not all: According to the Mayo Clinic, being sleep deprived prevents your body from producing protective cytokines, or compounds that your body needs to fight off infections and inflammation. Antibodies that protect the body from viral infections are also produced less in those who do not get enough sleep.
With all this being said, you’re probably wondering, how much sleep is enough sleep? Experts at the Mayo Clinic say that adults should be getting between seven and eight hours of sleep every night. And, there is definitely such a thing as too much sleep. Sleeping for nine to ten hours a night may increase your risk of poor sleep quality and lead to other sleep problems like insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.
It’s super important to make sure you’re getting the quality sleep that you need. We know this can be tough, especially with the stressful state of the world right now. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you can try stress-relieving practices like yoga or mindfulness meditation before bed. If you’re looking for even more helpful tips, check out this article.
We’re wishing you plenty of restful nights ahead.