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Give Your Immune System a Big Boost With Good Sleep

woman-sleeping-in-cozy-blue-bedding-sqAs part of our commitment to helping to make this year your healthiest one yet, we’d like to talk about another essential piece of the wellness puzzle: sleep! Many people think they can “get by” on little sleep, but that’s not true. Getting inadequate sleep can wreak havoc on our immune system.

What Some Research Shows

According to research by Dr. Aric Prather out of UC San Francisco on the common cold, people who sleep six hours a night or less are four times more likely to catch a cold when exposed to the virus than those who spend more than seven hours a night in slumber land.

Although people may naturally assume that there’s a relationship between sleep and immunity, the study revealed just how strong this relationship is—much greater than the relationship between the risk of developing a cold and alcohol consumption, smoking, or other markers of health, including BMI and self-reported stress.

Why Lack of Shut-eye Weakens the Immune System

When we sleep, our bodies repair and restore vital systems that help keep us alive. This includes muscular, skeletal, and cellular repair during our REM stages of sleep. If we are not getting adequate REM sleep, our bodies will not recover, and we will be more susceptible to illness.

While examining the relationship between sleep and response to cold virus exposure, the lead author of the UC San Francisco study explains that partial sleep deprivation reduces immune parameters critical to fighting infections.

Other studies have also demonstrated that the active immune system is extremely energy-dependent, and the reduced energy demands during sleep allow us to allocate additional energy resources toward the immune system.

Activate Your Immunity With Restorative Sleep

Another study, published last year in the Journal of Experimental Medicine and led by Stoyan Dimitrov, showed that a good night’s sleep can boost the effectiveness of T cells, a specialized white blood cell responsible for activating the immune system to fight infection. T cells do their job with the help of an immune system protein called integrins, which allows them to bind to their targets.

Dimitrov and his team showed that integrin activation happened at a higher rate during sleep than during wake, suggesting that the immune system is better at identifying threats while you’re asleep than while you’re awake.

Other Ways to Bolster Your Body’s Defenses

In addition to getting sound sleep, here are some other things you can do to optimize your immune system:

  • Keep your spine and nerve system healthy through NetworkSpinal adjustments
  • Eliminate alcohol
  • Increase your intake of zinc and Vitamins B6, C, and E
  • Exercise regularly
  • Manage stress and anxiety
  • Eat a healthy, whole-food diet
  • Hydrate well

Of course, making changes to benefit your immune system and improve your sleep won’t guarantee you avoid seasonal sickness, but it will undoubtedly improve your overall well-being.

Call us today at (303) 998-1000 to book a chiropractic care appointment. We want to help you stay healthy now and all year long!


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