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Does Sleep Affect Your Immunity System?

by | Mar 4, 2022 | Health, Sleep Advice

Quality sleep is essential for good health, yet, many people can’t relate to this statement. The importance of good sleep is somehow side-lined amid the growing workload and late-night culture. This issue is much relevant in the recent pandemic where everyone has to work from home, resulting in a drastic change in their otherwise daily schedule.

If you need a reason to prioritise sleep, then let’s summarise it all in one sentence: sleep helps boost the Immune System. To know how let’s first understand the immune system.

A] How Does the Immune System Work?

The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism. It helps fight infections and diseases by attacking germs or viruses that enter the body, helping us recover quickly, thereby keeping us healthy. Whenever a foreign element (antigen) enters the body, the immune system is alerted, and it immediately begins the process of eliminating them.

B lymphocytes are triggered to create antibodies (immunoglobulins). They are proteins responsible for locking onto specific antigens. Once antibodies are made they stay in our body, effectively fighting off the same disease/germ again (if we are infected). It is the reason why when we get sick, for example, with chickenpox, we don’t get infected again. It is also how vaccines work to prevent diseases.

Although the antibody locks onto the antigen after recognising it, it is not capable of destroying them without help. This part of the process is handled by the T cells, which helps destroy antigens tagged by the antibodies or cells that are infected or manage to change in some way. Some of these T cells are called ‘killer cells’. T cells also help to signal or communicate with other cells (like phagocytes) to get their jobs done.

The antibodies created neutralise the toxins in the body produced by different organisms and activate a group of proteins (complement) to kill bacteria, viruses, or any infected cells.

B] How Does Sleep Affect Immunity?

The working of the immune system is slightly different when it comes to sleep. Sleep and immunity are co-related. Poor sleep affects the immune system in the following ways:

  • Decreased Production of Cytokines: While asleep, your immune system releases certain proteins known as cytokines, some of which contribute to promoting sleep. Certain cytokines increase when you experience an infection or inflammation, or under stress. However, lack of sleep may result in a decrease in these protective cytokines, affecting immunity.
  • Lowering or Reduction of White Blood Cells: A reduction in the number of infection-fighting antibodies and cells (white blood cells) is also observed during periods when you don’t get adequate sleep. It makes your body weak and incapable of fighting against diseases, gradually slowing down the pace of recovery.
  • Suppression of Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone produced at night to combat stress and promote sleep. Sleep deprivation leads to lower levels of melatonin, which is associated with diseases like cancer.
  • Increased CRP: Sleep deprivation can also cause an increase in the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) in our body, which is an indicator of inflammation that can later pave the way for heart disease.

This proves your body needs enough sleep to fight against infectious diseases or germs to avoid potential life threats. An optimum sleep of 8-10 hours improves immunity and helps you stay healthy.

C] What Are The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Health?

Sleeping for less than 7-8 hours has been linked to several health problems, apart from a poor immune system. Below are some effects of sleep deprivation on health.

1. Affects the Central Nervous System: All the functions in your body are processed via the central nervous system. Thus, to keep it functioning efficiently, sleep is necessary.

  • Chronic insomnia can interfere with the way your body usually sends and processes information. It leaves your brain exhausted and affects your mental & emotional state, making you more impatient or irritated, resulting in mood swings and poor decision-making. Your ability to concentrate is hampered as well. The sending of signals is also delayed. Under such circumstances, coordination decreases, and the risk of accidents is higher.
  • Side effects of lack of sleep also include short-term and long-term memory loss. If this continues, you could start having hallucinations and become a victim of bipolar mood disorder or face other such psychological risks.

2. Poor Respiratory System: Your sleep and respiratory system share an interdependent relationship that goes both ways. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a night-time breathing disorder that can interrupt sleep. Constant interruption at night can harm your sleep, leaving you vulnerable to respiratory infections like flu or the common cold. In addition, it can worsen existing respiratory conditions such as chronic lung illness. Therefore, adequate sleep is important.

3. Digestive System: In addition to over-eating and not exercising, sleep deprivation is another risk factor that can lead to obesity.

  • Sleep affects two appetite stimulant hormones – leptin and ghrelin – that control hunger and fullness. The flux in these hormones leads to night-time snacking or food cravings.
  • Lack of sleep can make you feel too tired to work out. Over time, reduced physical activities can make you gain weight.
  • The insulin released is also comparatively less after you eat due to lack of quality sleep which eventually reduces the blood sugar levels. Your body’s tolerance for glucose is lowered, leading to diabetes mellitus and obesity.

4. Weakens the Cardiovascular System: Sleep greatly influences the processes that keep your heart and blood vessels healthy. It also affects blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation processes. It plays a significant role in your body’s ability to heal and repair blood vessels. So if you don’t sleep enough, you are more likely to become a victim of cardiovascular diseases.

5. Endocrine System: The production of hormones depends on your sleep. Interruption in sleep can affect the production of growth hormones, especially in children and adolescents. In addition to growth, this hormone also helps build muscle mass and repair cells and tissues. It also affects testosterone production.

D] Benefits of Sleeping on a Good Mattress

A good mattress promotes restful sleep. Here are some of the benefits of sleeping on a high-quality mattress.

  • Improved Sleep: A good mattress makes a great difference in your sleeping pattern. A comfortable mattress will ensure quality sleep, so you wake up energised. It also helps prevent health issues and feelings of restlessness and back pain.
  • Prevents Aches and Pain: Quality mattress provides your body with the right support and pressure after a stressful day. It prevents backache and sore muscles in the morning that may be caused due to a low-quality mattress.
  • Allergies: Chances of any allergic reactions are relatively less when sleeping on a good quality mattress. Here, organic mattresses are a wise choice that ensures safe and healthy sleep, free of chemicals and toxins.
  • Increase Productivity: Your body goes into recovery mode when you sleep. A good mattress will only add to it and make you feel less fatigued or lethargic after waking up, eventually boosting productivity.
  • Promotes Good Posture: Sleeping on a good mattress improves your form and posture. Unlike memory foam mattresses, organic mattresses are crafted for form and posture. They provide the perfect firmness and softness, best-suited for back or stomach sleepers, active couples, and tall/large combination sleepers.

Further reading: Benefits of Choosing the Right Mattress

#Mattresses Recommended for Quality Sleep

    • Classic Mattress: aloha classic mattresses are made of natural latex. They are GOLS certified organic latex, offering you the best health and comfort.

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