- How Sleep Affects Your Immunity
This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Sleep plays a significant role when it comes to your wellbeing. Although more sleep doesn’t automatically keep you from getting sick, skimping on it could adversely affect your immune system, making you vulnerable to a bad cold or a case of flu. To keep yourself free this season, here’s what you need to know.
Sleep and Cytokines
Without enough sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response. Cytokines are both created and released during sleep, producing a double whammy if you miss your eyes shut. Chronic sleep loss makes the flu vaccine less effective by reducing your body’s ability to respond.
Stock Up on Naps
To stay healthy, especially during the influenza season, take the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. This will help keep your immune system in shape and protect you from other health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If your sleep schedule is interrupted by a busy workweek or other factors, try to make up for the lost nap rest. Taking two napes of less than 30 minutes each — one in the morning and one in the afternoon — has been shown to help reduce stress and compensate for the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system. If you can’t swing a half-hour nap during the workday, try grabbing a 20-minute siesta on your lunch hour, and another right before dinner.
Other Healthy Tactics
Of course, there’s more to boost your immunity and take care of your illness than to get plenty of sleep. It is also important to practice smart stay-healthy strategies, such as washing your hands with soap regularly, avoiding close contact with people who are obviously in the weather, and talking to your doctor about getting an annual flu shot. And remember: even if you come down with a case of seasonal sniffles, you’ll be able to bounce back faster if your body is well-rested.