The importance of sleep in our lives cannot be understated. Extensive research over the years has highlighted the impact of sleep on your immune system. There’s a relationship between sleep, our physical health and every system of the body. The immune system is very critical to your overall health. After all, it is fundamental to healing wounds, warding off infections and protecting against life threatening diseases/illnesses. Moreover, there is need to have a strong immune system, especially in the current pandemic.
When you sleep, your immune releases proteins called cytokines, some of which helps you sleep better. Although, Cytokines will increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you are under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease the production of cytokines, antibodies and cells.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SLEEP AND YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Getting sufficient hours of quality sleep improves your defense system; this system features strong innate and adoptive immunity, efficient response to vaccines and less severe allergic reactions. Sleep is an essential part of building up the body’s Immunity and making sure it is operating at full capacity when healthy.
On the other hand, serious sleep problems can interfere with the healthy functioning of the immune system.
According to Dr. Teofilo Lee-Chiong during these uncertain times, while the world is battling an infectious disease, it is essential to optimize sleep to ensure the immune system remains strong, and to support mental well-being. He suggests:
- Maintaining a regular bedtime and waking time. Schedule a protected time for sleep, including an anchor period (i.e., same 4-6 hours regardless of schedule).
- Napping to reduce daytime fatigue but not regularly doing to replace a restful night sleep.
- Cutting down on alcoholic beverages, energy drinks and foods containing caffeine, such as dark chocolate, at night.
- Limiting the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, candies and desserts that can worsen sleep quality.
- Keeping the sleep environment comfortable, dark, quiet, and cool.
According to Sleep foundation, the data below reflects the ideal amount of sleep in normal circumstances. However, there are certain cases when people need more sleep, for example, while recovering from illness. So, to fully optimize the impact of sleep on your immune system, you have to ensure you get the amount of sleep recommended for you.
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
- Preschoolers (3-5 years): 10-13 hours
- School-age children (6-13 years): 9-11 hours
- Teenagers (14-17 years): 8-10 hours
- Younger adults (18-25 years): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64 years): 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65years and above): 7-8 hours