Sleep & Our Immune System

Because of the COVID pandemic, there is a lot of conversation about how strong people’s immune systems are, and who may be “immune-compromised.” While that is important, what a lot of people ignore even during more normal times is the relationship between sleep and immunity.

One of the key elements in helping your immune system function well is sleep. Sleep is not just a way that we rest and heal emotionally from our day. It is also the time that our bodies produce white blood cells (T-cells) that help us respond to infections and also produce a protein (cytokines) that helps ameliorate inflammation. Consistent sleep also helps to regulate the release of hormones. 

Paying attention to our sleep habits and making them a priority, something that we consciously work on, can not only help you physically but can improve your mood and help you to be more resilient psychologically.

The key to sleeping better is to develop a consistent routine, something that I have blogged about before ( but bears repeating. Here are some reminders to think about:

– Keep the room that you sleep in dark. Our circadian rhythms react to light so even a small amount of light can disrupt your sleep. Think about your window treatments and whether they help or hurt your sleeping.

– Most people sleep better in a cool room because our bodies naturally seek sleep when the temperatures are cooler at night. Program your thermostat so that your heat or air conditioning helps you remain cool at night.

– If you cannot control the noise in your home, think about a white noise machine or noise-canceling earplugs to aid in your sleeping.

– Avoid the blue light from computers, phones, and television for an hour before you want to go to sleep. You can use eyeglasses that reduce blue light or screen filters if you cannot stop watching before bedtime.

– It goes without saying that caffeine is the enemy of sleep. Avoid it after the early afternoon, even in decaffeinated drinks, tea, and chocolate.

– Don’t exercise right before bedtime. It raises your body temperature and heart rate and reduces the tendency to sleep. However, exercising earlier in the day is likely to improve your sleep.

– Meditation, mindfulness, and specialized breathing techniques can increase relaxation and lead to better sleep habits.

– Keeping a notebook and a pen on your night table will help you let go of those “to do’ thoughts that wake you up and prey on your sleep. Write them down and let them go until morning.

For many people, insomnia is a chronic issue, and for others, it is a periodic concern. Emotional stresses – family problems, financial worries, health issues, relationship concerns – can all affect your sleep.

Please reach out to me if you have chronic or periodic insomnia. There are many techniques that I can teach you that will help.

Call 732-933-1333 for an appointment to discuss.