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Now that cold and flu season is officially upon us, we’re all thinking of ways we can avoid succumbing to the latest bug making the rounds. Of course, eating healthy meals, washing your hands, and getting your flu shot are all great places to start. But did you know that getting plenty of sleep can also help you stay healthy all season long – indeed, all year long?
It’s true! Sleep is immensely important to virtually all bodily systems, and the immune system is no exception. Getting enough sleep is a simple but powerful way to keep your immune system in top form, allowing you to spend more time doing the things you love to do.
Here are just a few ways that the amount of sleep you get affects your immune system.
Lack of sleep depresses the immune system.
It’s true that the immune system is complex, with multiple moving parts. But one thing scientists have observed in multiple studies is that when a person is sleep deprived, the number of T-cells in their bloodstream goes down. T-cells are the white blood cells that seek out and destroy bacteria and viruses. When you have fewer T-cells, your immune system can’t respond as well to the germs that sneak past the body’s other defenses.
In addition to this, another type of cell, inflammatory cytokines, increase in number when a person doesn’t get enough sleep. An increase in inflammation can lead to certain kinds of tissue damage. This combines with the lack of T-cells to make a person more susceptible to coming down with any number of diseases, including colds and the flu.
Not sleeping well can reduce fever response.
Of course, nobody wants to experience a fever. It’s uncomfortable and generally miserable. But here’s the thing: fevers are the body’s way of fighting off an infection, turning up the heat to slowly let the germs cook. Many parents who have sat up with a sick child have noticed that fevers tend to go up at night. This is a good thing! The body is taking advantage of the time when a person is at rest to go about the business of fighting off an infection.
Because of this, if you do get sick, it’s especially important to get plenty of sleep. Sleeping well will help your body to fight off the infection, allowing you to bounce back faster.
There’s no need to get extra sleep to help your immune system.
If you’re already sleeping the right amount of time (seven to nine hours for adults, nine to eleven hours for teens), you’re good to go. As with so many other things in life, boosting your immune system through sleep is all about balance. You don’t have to go overboard; you just have to develop healthy habits.
And if you’re generally short of sleep? Fall is a great time to get back on a regular sleep schedule. After all, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. You might as well use that increased darkness to get some shut-eye.
Of course, if it’s your mattress that’s holding you back from getting a good night’s sleep, know that your friends here at Mattress One are here to help. We can make sure that you have the right mattress for your sleep style and comfort level. Stop by today to find the right mattress for you!
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