When it comes to how to prevent colds and flu, we all know how important it is to top up on vitamin C, eat healthily and wash our hands to help prevent the spread of infection. You may also know that a healthy gut is important for a healthy immune system. But how do our sleeping habits affect our immune health?
The link between sleep and immune health
Scientists are still trying to figure out the exact relationship between sleep and the immune system, but many agree that a lack of sleep can severely impair immunity and make you more vulnerable to infections like colds and flu.
Fighting fit thanks to a good night’s sleep
So how does sleep support the immune system? Sleep affects different parts of the immune system in different ways. Many studies suggest that sleep helps our bodies create the immune cells we need to fight off pathogens. Others show that sleep helps to shift the balance of anti-inflammatory proteins so that we can respond better to bugs.
Nearly all agree that our immune system is stronger following a good night’s sleep.
How much sleep do I need?
Sleep is vital when it comes to good immune health, but how much sleep do you need? Everyone is different but as a general rule of thumb adults should aim for at least 8 hours a night; teenagers need more, between 8 and 10 hours a night, and young children need more still, at least 10 hours a night.
Sleep better for better immune health
Here are our top 5 tips for a better night’s sleep:
1. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day will make the hours that you sleep more productive and will help you establish a sleep routine.
2. Avoid using tablets or phones in bed, as the blue light will stimulate the brain and keep you awake for longer. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep earlier, try slowly dimming the lights an hour before bedtime to simulate the setting sun. This will trigger the release of the sleep hormone melatonin.
3. Broken sleep is poor quality sleep and will not help the immune system. If you wake up during the night, make a note of the time. Waking up at 3am is actually very common and a sign your liver, which carries out many of its functions in the early hours of the morning, may be working too hard to process fatty foods and refined sugars, alcohol or stimulants. If you’re eating and drinking too much of the wrong stuff, adjust your diet accordingly.
4. A natural sleep remedy can also help. A.Vogel Dormeasan® Sleep with fresh Valerian and Hops can help you get to sleep and also stay in the deeper stages of sleep for longer. It’s also non-addictive and fast-acting, and won't normally leave you feeling groggy in the morning.
5. If a blocked nose is keeping you awake, try to prop your head a little higher on your pillow, and use a nasal spray to loosen congestion. If you do fall ill with a cold or flu, the Echinaforce range can help to ease cold and flu symptoms for a better night's sleep.