Sleep and Immune System - How Are They Related?

Sleep and Immune System - How Are They Related?

4 minute read

Most people know of the importance of quality sleep for overall health and daily functioning, but you may be surprised to learn that sleep is also critical for preventing you from getting sick. As it turns out, sleep and immunity are closely related, so getting a good night of rest on a regular basis is critical if you want to avoid illness. With demanding schedules and the temptation to stay up late on electronic devices, it can be difficult to get the sleep you need, but knowing that sleep can keep the immune system functioning and prevent you from being sick in bed for days on end may make it more of a priority.

How Sleep and the Immune System are Related

It is helpful to understand a little of the science behind the sleep and immunity connection, and researchers have conducted studies to deepen our understanding. One study in the journal Current Opinion in Neurobiology found that lack of sleep leads to an immune response in the body, characterized by activation of inflammatory processes. Another study with young adults restricted their sleep from 8 hours per night to 6 hours per night for 12 nights in a laboratory setting, and at the end of the sleep restriction period, they demonstrated increased sleepiness, as well as an increase in pro-inflammatory markers. What these studies suggest is that sleep affects the immune system by playing a role in inflammation.

Does the Link Between Sleep and Immune System Affect Illness?

It has been pretty well-established that sleep and the immune system are connected, which has led researchers to take an interest in the relationship between sleep and illnesses like the common cold. In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, people who got less than 7 hours of sleep per night were 2.94 times more likely to catch a cold when compared to those who slept at least 8 hours. In addition, those with poor sleep quality, meaning they spent a significant amount of time in bed but awake, were 5.5 times more likely to catch a cold.

Unfortunately, sleep deprivation isn’t just linked to nagging but relatively harmless illnesses like the common cold. In fact, a 2019 study with doctors working night shifts found that sleep deprivation among the doctors was associated with DNA damage, and the authors of the study concluded that this could have a negative effect on physical health, since DNA damage can lead to chronic diseases. The concerns of these study authors have been verified by research which shows that sleep deprivation causes an inflammatory response, which can lead to the following health conditions:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Given what is known from scientific studies, sleep deprivation and immunity are rather serious, since a lack of sleep can ultimately lead to chronic health problems.

Ways to Improve Sleep and Enhance Immunity

If you struggle with insomnia or simply aren’t getting the sleep you need, and you’re worried about sleep deprivation and immunity, there are fortunately things you can do to sleep better. For those who struggle with insomnia, the following remedies can be effective:

  • Exercise
  • Yoga or Meditation
  • Lavender Oil
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Limiting Caffeine
  • Setting a consistent sleep schedule
  • Exposure to sunlight in the morning
  • Powering down devices in the evening
  • Keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet

Implementing these strategies can help you to overcome sleep challenges that may be harming your health and immunity.

Weighted Blankets for Improving Sleep and Immune Functioning

While the remedies above can be effective for treating insomnia, some people may find that they need something more. If that is the case, weighted blanket therapy can provide benefits to those looking to improve sleep and the immune system. Weighted blanket therapy provides deep touch pressure to the body, which relaxes the nervous system and can help people to calm down for a more restful night of sleep. In fact, research has found that when individuals who struggle with insomnia use a weighted blanket, they sleep longer at night and move around less in their sleep, indicating that weighted blankets are effective for improving sleep, and in turn, immunity.

For those looking to try a weighted blanket to get better sleep, Aricove offers a weighted blanket of 15 lbs for adults, as well as 10, 12, 17, and 20 lb versions for those with higher or lower body weights. We offer the best cooling weighted blanket on the market, so you can stay comfortable throughout the night for a restful slumber and enjoy the benefits of improved sleep and top immune functioning.

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