At least 7-8 hours. That seems to be the perfect dose your body needs every night to fend off seasonal cold and flu viruses.
That’s because sleep is the ultimate immune-booster, and the best way to keep yourself cold and flu-free is to put on your pajamas, tuck yourself into bed, and sleep for at least seven-eight solid hours. Then do it again, night after night.
In fact, research shows that people who don’t get enough sleep or get poor quality sleep are more likely to catch a virus after being exposed to it than people who are sleeping like babies for eight hours every night.
But why does a restful night’s sleep mean the difference between being healthy as a horse or sick as a dog this cold and flu season? Well, because your immune system suffers when you don’t sleep.
Sleep And Immunity
When you sleep, your body releases cytokines, immune proteins that help you fight disease. When you don’t sleep, however, your body isn’t releasing as many of these proteins, which means it’s easier for a virus to slip past your immune system and take hold of your body.
Of course, if you’re not sleeping regularly enough, a cold or flu virus is the least of your worries. You could have more chronic health problems on your hands.
A lack of quality sleep over a long period of time can lead to serious health issues like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer. That’s because it can severely depress your immune system.
Take the latest study from researchers at the University of Washington Medical Center as an example. These researchers studied 11 pairs of identical twins and found that the twin who slept less than seven hours per night had a lower active immune system than the twin who slept more.
These researchers found that getting less quality sleep than your body needs every night (like getting five to six hours instead of seven to eight) shuts down parts of your immune system. This part of your immune system is responsible for sending out the white blood cells that protect your body from infections and disease.
“The results are consistent with studies that show when sleep-deprived people are given a vaccine, there is a lower antibody response. If you expose sleep-deprived people to a rhinovirus, they are more likely to get the virus,” said Dr. Nathaniel Watson, lead author of the study and co-director of the UW Medicine Sleep Center at Harborview Medical Center. “This study provides further evidence of sleep to overall health and well-being, particularly to immune health.”
Sleep Your Way To A Robust Immune System
The fact that sleep plays such a massive role in your immune system is great news because it’s almost entirely in your control. It’s free and poses no side-effects as pharmaceuticals and sometimes even nutraceuticals can. All you need to do is go to sleep an hour or two earlier every night, and you could be protecting yourself from everything from a cold and flu to cancer.
Researchers from Uppsala University discovered that metabolic functions that are regulated by your skeletal muscle and fat tissue are adversely affected by disrupted sleep and circadian rhythms.
And, they went on to prove that lack of sleep results in a tissue-specific change in DNA methylation. In other words, it can change which genes are turned on and turned off.
And That’s Not All
Lack of sleep can also lead to blood sugar problems.
A study out of the University of Chicago Medical Center found that sleep deprivation can disrupt fat metabolism, elevate levels of free fatty acids in your blood and reduce the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars.
Put simply, lack of sleep can lead to diabetes, a condition that goes hand-in-hand with obesity.
Better Sleep For Weight And Sugar Management
If you want to keep off unwanted pounds, you have to make sleep a priority.
Good sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy weight. Get quality rest to decrease cravings, improve your metabolism, and stabilize your blood pressure.
Of course, if you struggle with insomnia, getting more quality sleep may be easier said than done. But there are ways to overcome even the most chronic sleep issues. You can start by:
- Avoiding caffeine and alcohol within four hours of bedtime.
- Practice meditation. Meditation helps control the stress that’s at the root of many chronic cases of insomnia.
- Avoiding brightly lit screens (TV, phone, and tablet screens) within two hours of bedtime.
- Taking a natural sleep aid that contains melatonin.
To find out what you can do to get a better night’s sleep, call Doctor’s Nutrition today at 1-800-824-0194 and talk to one of our doctors about your specific sleep issues as well as other health problems that you may have that could be contributing to the sleep problem.
Check out DN Better Rest Formula, one of our most popular formulas, as it provides nutrient and botanical support for optimal sleep and healthy circadian rhythms. Better Rest contains Ashwagandha, L-theanine, Lemon balm, GABA, and Melatonin. All of these natural ingredients play an important role in when we fall asleep, and when we wake up.
- “Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?” Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org. January 29, 2017.
- “Chronic sleep deprivation suppresses the immune system.” MedicalXpress. https://medicalxpress.com. January 29, 2017.
- How sleep loss may contribute to adverse weight gain — Uppsala University