Do you often complain about feeling fatigued, cravings at odd hours and falling sick easily? Then you might need to revisit your sleep cycle. Sleep- the sweet five-letter word is a wonder in itself. It not only helps your mind and body rest, but it also works remarkably on building and sustaining your immune system.
Lack of sleep or a night of good sleep can adversely affect the natural resilience of your body. Here’s how:
When you sleep, your body releases proteins called cytokines, some of which also in turn help promote sleep; works in a cyclic order. These cytokines need to be available in larger quantities, especially when you have an infection, inflammation, or too much stress (physical or psychological), so your body can produce more antibodies to fight the infection. We see this mostly during a common cold, flu, or any kind of infection, when, no matter what you do, the discomfort, body ache, or the sniffling won’t just go away. This is because you are probably not getting an ample amount of snoozing hours, giving your body enough time to regenerate the cytokines.
Quality of sleep determines your well-being
Studies have shown time and again, that those who do not sleep enough or don’t have a healthy sleeping cycle, are most prone to falling sick, getting impacted by a virus, and become an easy target of many seasonal illnesses, like the common cold virus. In addition to boosting immunity, a good amount of sleep can also help in a speedy recovery, in case you do fall sick. In simpler words, the better the sleep, the stronger you are.
But here’s the catch. Sleep isn’t just snoozing randomly, or remaining in your lucid state, while only your eyes are closed. That kind of sleep has no benefits whatsoever. When experts talk about or suggest getting enough hours of sleep, they don’t mean a patchy, disturbed sleep or an irregular sleep pattern. What they are talking about is the quality of your sleep; there is good sleep and bad sleep.
You get a good night’s sleep when you –
- easily fall asleep as soon as you hit the bed
- do not feel exhausted or groggy the next day
- sleep at a stretch and not in intervals
On the contrary, if you –
- take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep after getting into bed
- were diagnosed with insomnia
- often wake up more than once per night
- continue to feel tired and your eyes are heavy even after you wake up after eight hours,
- have irregular sleep patterns (you sleep whenever, and however, and break the regular cycle)
then know that you desperately need to improve the quality of your sleep.
Lack of sleep, the side-effects
Long term lack of good sleep can not only affect your immunity system but also put your body at risk of lifestyle diseases and serious health conditions like diabetes, obesity, excessive stress, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases. Understanding the importance of sleep and the kind of sleep is the first step to bolstering your immunity. This takes us to the next point in the discussion and a very legitimate question that we all ask ourselves…
How much sleep do I need?
There is an optimal dose of everything that our body needs to stay healthy and active. Depending on your age, professional requirement, and health conditions, you can calculate your sleeping hours.
Adults typically need seven to eight hours of ‘good’ sleep during night time. If you are working through the night, then you would invariably sleep in the day, but that might not be as effective as a night’s sleep. Teenagers on the other hand, need nine to 10 hours of sleep, since their bodies are at the onset of building resistance. Kids, however, need the most sleep. Sleeping more than required is not a great thing either. You could be in bed for 10 hours but you will still end up with broken sleep that will cause you more harm than good.
Sleeping is not just a part and parcel of your living cycle but a therapeutic solution to many health conditions. If you cannot always manage a long stretch of eight hours’ sleep, try to catch power naps in between. It not only helps reduce stress instantly but also fights the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, but also with keeping maintaining the vitality of your immune system. Getting the right amount of sleep for your body doesn’t mean that sleep can stop you from falling sick. To be immune to seasonal sicknesses and lifestyle diseases you also need to practice healthy habits; consume and sustain a nutritious dietary routine, being active or moving more, practicing proper sleep hygiene to build and sustain a robust immune system.
This article was written by the Fitday Nutrition team. For any questions, comments and clarifications please email us at email@example.com. If you liked this article please leave us a comment below- we love chatting with you, too!