When it comes to your health and immunity, sleep is your armour. Poor sleep can have a multitude of effects on our health. It can contribute to increased inflammation, weight gain, insulin resistance and even the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Sleep also has a strong influence on the function of the immune system. Research shows that people who don’t get enough quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold or flu.
When you’re awake, most of your energy is going to your brain and muscles. When you’re asleep, the immune system uses some of that energy to create immune cells and stimulate the healing process. It takes advantage of the reduced demands from your body during sleep to get to work and boost immune cells. These cells, known as T-cells, fight against pathogens and infection all throughout the body.
Research shows that people who consistently miss out on good quality sleep are not only more likely to get sick, but also take longer to recover when they are hit with an illness. Now it makes sense that our mothers told us to get a good sleep when were sick as kids! Night-time brings a good opportunity for the immune system to act without being interrupted by daily activities while you're awake.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a great way to support your immunity, but there are many other things you can incorporate into your lifestyle to ward off sickness and even help speed up your recovery when you do get sick. These include staying hydrated, keeping active, reducing stress, and stocking up on immune-boosting nutrients from foods and supplements, such as zinc, vitamin C and probiotics.
Read our article on understanding your sleep cycle for easy tips on how to get a better night's sleep.