How to strengthen your immune system through sleeping
By Sian Babish
Mar 20, 2020 | 12:29 PM
The average person needs approximately seven hours of sleep per night. If you burn the midnight oil on a regular basis or have difficulty maintaining a sleep schedule, you might find yourself feeling worn out.
It's not just your body telling you it's time to rest -- it's your immune system.
In fact, you can strengthen your immune system by sleeping (or weaken it by not sleeping). With adequate rest, your body is able to reset and recharge, and you can take on each day feeling refreshed and energized, ready to face any circumstances. Besides the physical benefits of sleeping, you also boost your mental clarity and mood.
As you focus on self-care and spend more time at home, take a look at these tips to help you develop and prioritize a healthy sleep schedule.
Few things beat feeling well-rested, and you can thank cytokines for that. These proteins are released when you sleep and help combat infection, irritation, and inflammation.
When you narrow your sleep window -- sometimes referred to as sleep deprivation -- there's less time for cytokines to do their job. As a result, when fewer cytokines are released, your body is more likely to feel the toll of stress and illness, which explains the "slowing down" you experience after a night of not sleeping well.
Well-regulated cytokines are essential to a good night's sleep, which is why sleep experts recommend committing to a healthy and regular sleep schedule. This lets your body get adequate rest and lets those cytokines get to work. Whenever possible, rise and rest at the same time each day. While it takes some sleep training to get in the swing of things, it's well worth the short-term and long-term benefits.
Health benefits of a good night's rest
Sleeping well -- consistently -- has extraordinary health benefits. Adequate sleep aids in heart health, as it reduces how much cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) is released into the body. Lower cortisol levels promote better blood pressure and healthier blood sugar levels and can even aid in weight loss.
A good night's rest also improves skin health, and it's not just a matter of hiding a late night's next-morning dark circles. Rather, the cells on your face regenerate at a quicker rate at night -- which is why you're left feeling and looking "fresh-faced" after a restful night of sleep.
It goes without saying that that sleeping well also boosts your mood and productivity levels, as you're far more lucid when you're not fatigued. With more mental clarity, you're better equipped to handle social situations, challenges at work, and even your exercise routine. Basically, get a good night's rest because it sets you up for success all day long.
Setting up a healthy sleep environment
While it's easy to simply tell someone to sleep more to feel better, it's more difficult for some people than others. Whether you're a natural sleeper or have a sleep disorder, setting up a healthy sleep environment is crucial to developing better sleeping habits.
Do you find yourself struggling to find a comfortable sleeping position? It's a key indicator that it's time to upgrade your bedding.
Invest in supportive pillows, not only for your head and neck, but also for the rest of your body. Contoured body pillows promote better alignment, such as pregnancy support pillows or knee pillows. It might be time to change your mattress as well, especially if it's lumpy, or if you're broaching the 10-year mark of sleeping on it. There's no better time to invest in your wellbeing than right now if you have the disposable income.
Reducing blue light distractions
Electronics like cell phones, tablets, and laptops emit blue light. The illumination, plus the mental overstimulation of social media, is enough to throw off your circadian rhythm. Minimizing these blue light distractions can make it much easier to fall asleep.
A step in the right direction is setting your phone to sleep mode and placing it facedown on your bedside table. Resist the urge to socially engage once you've settled into bed, and instead, concentrate on breathing or mindfulness to prepare your mind and body for sleep.
If you have a television or computer in your bedroom, it's worth considering removing it for a few nights. It's easy to turn them on when you have trouble falling asleep, but it takes more commitment to get out of bed entirely and go to them in another room.
Improve the ambiance
While there's no official correlation between interior design and sleeping better, it's important that your bedroom is "sleep ready." This involves improving the overall ambiance.
Dimmable lighting can help you wind down better, and you can even invest in colored lighting to bring your mood to where it needs to be. Warm lighting, for example, is soothing and relaxing. Sound machines with white noise or other calming sounds can also help lull you to sleep.
Keeping your room tidy and organized can also boost your mood and reduce stress levels. When your entire room is in order, it's much easier to relax and settle into bed when you're not focused on piles of laundry or dusty furniture.
Another way to improve the ambiance is by practicing feng shui, in which you harmonize with your surroundings. On the physical level, this involves moving furniture into a more pleasing arrangement or adding decorative accents that delight you. On the mental level, it improves your attitude toward your room, as you begin viewing it as a peaceful sanctuary well-suited for sleep.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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