Most of us are thinking about our immune systems more than ever. Washing our hands, taking all the vitamins… and hitting the hay?
That last part might seem like an afterthought, with so much happening in the world to occupy you during the day—and keep you awake at night. But in the mission to stay healthy, don’t neglect sleep as an important tool in your immune system’s arsenal.
Sleep and Your Immune System
Believe it or not, your sleep affects your immune system and vice versa. You’ve probably noticed that when you’re not feeling well, your body naturally tries to fight off sickness by resting and recuperating. Similarly, you know that if you haven’t given your body enough R&R, you’re more susceptible to getting sick.
There’s a scientific basis for this. In one study of identical twins, the sibling that slept less every night had a depressed immune system. And other research has shown long-term sleep loss, or excessive sleep debt, suppresses your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections. So why not take the extra preventative step by catching a few more Zzz’s tonight? Your health and wellness depend on it.
Sleep and Stress
Getting enough sleep not only helps keep infections at bay, it’s also an incredible stress-relieving tool. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and uncertain, quality sleep gives you the power to lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and maintain a healthy heart rate. Not to mention, it’s free. If you’re finding it hard to cope with all that’s going on and feeling fatigued during the day, remember you can always take a nap.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, naps kept under 30 minutes offer the best benefits. In the time it takes to watch a short TV show, you could help yourself decrease stress, increase your alertness and avoid burnout. Quality rest in whatever form—naps, meditation, REM sleep—is crucial for maintaining peace of mind during difficult times.
Prioritize Good Nights for Better Days
With so many things out of our control, getting enough sleep is an achievable goal. While sleep alone may not prevent sickness or infection, practicing good sleep hygiene can strengthen your immune systems and keep your stress levels in check. If the idea of getting quality sleep at a time like this feels impossible, check out these tips to make it easier. Rest assured knowing you’re doing what you can to stay healthy by giving yourself a great night’s rest.