Did you know that sleep and the immune system go hand in hand – Is a lack of quality sleep making you sick?
A properly functioning, strong immune system requires regular, quality sleep. Sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing, and compromised sleep can directly and negatively affect your immune system.
Snoring is one of the biggest contributing factors to compromised sleep.
Medical researchers worldwide have identified the link between poor quality sleep, or not enough sleep, and the likelihood of becoming unwell after exposure to viruses, as well as the development of chronic illness. It reduces your tolerance to pain, causes morning headaches, and can even impact your body’s ability to recover and respond to immunisation.
Your Immune System
Your immune system is what helps defend your body against viruses, bacteria, inflammation, and various diseases. It is comprised of a complex network of cells and proteins. It works constantly to keep you well and healthy.
The immune system has the following parts:
- The spleen
- The thymus gland
- The lymphatic system (including the tonsils and adenoids)
- The complement system of proteins
- Bone marrow
- White blood cells
A properly functioning immune system records every “foreign” microbe it has ever defended the body against. It uses cells called B- and T-lymphocytes (or B-cells and T-cells) to do this. These specialized immune cells recognize pathogens and trigger the immune response to destroy these foreign microbes if they ever re-enter the body.
For example, if you get the flu or a common cold, it is the immune response rather than the infection itself which often makes you feel sick. When your immune system kicks into action, that is when you have symptoms and feel unwell. A fever, for example, is part of the immune response – the raised temperature of your body eliminates these foreign microbes and triggers repair processes.
Immunisation works by activating the body’s natural immune response. Vaccines are tiny, specifically treated (and often inactivated) doses of a virus, bacterium, or toxin. Exposure to the vaccine triggers the immune system to create antibodies so that if ever exposed, you will not get sick. Feeling unwell after flu immunisation, for example, is your natural and desired immune response, rather than actually “catching the flu”. It is impossible to catch a disease from a vaccine.
When the immune system is not functioning properly, you are more likely to become sick. An underactive immune system can be caused by a lack of sleep, poor diet, stress, it may be inherited, it can be a result of chemotherapy or steroid use, or it can be directly caused by a disease like cancer or HIV.
If your immune system is overactive, you may develop allergies or autoimmune disease.
Sleep and the Immune System – How Does Sleep Impact Immunity?
We all need regular functional sleep to fight infections and disease. Over time, a lack of sleep significantly boosts your risk of developing chronic and potentially serious health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, sleep apnoea, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
As you sleep, your immune system produces and releases protective proteins cytokines. These promote sleep and target infections and inflammation at the same time. You need more cytokines released when you are:
- Experiencing inflammation (e.g. after an injury)
- Have an infection
Lack of sleep inhibits the production of cytokine as well as the antibodies your body needs to fight infection. Your immune system also responds to other issues like random cancer cells. (Cancer cells are simply abnormal cells which can grow and spread. We all have these in our bodies, and a properly-functioning immune system will eliminate them before they can create a tumour and potentially become invasive cancer).
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine last year identified that quality sleep can boost the effectiveness of T-cells.
Tips for a Healthier Immune System
- Aim to get seven to eight hours of good quality sleep each night. See our sleep science guide for information on how much sleep you should get based on your age.
- Take a nap if your nighttime sleep is disrupted, or if you are experiencing heightened stress levels.
- Maintain healthy habits – wash your hands regularly, drink plenty of water, limit or avoid alcohol, don’t smoke, and choose to eat a healthy, modest diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables and whole foods. Check out our other sleep health tips here.
- Reduce stress.
- Avoid close contact with others if you are feeling unwell. Stay away from people who are sick.
- Ensure you are fully vaccinated, including your annual flu vaccine.
- Find a solution to stop snoring and treat sleep apnoea. These interrupt functional sleep. ApneaRX offers an effective stop snoring solution.
ApneaRX – Your Solution to Stop Snoring
ApneaRX is the NZ brand of the revolutionary anti-snoring device that has helped snorers and sufferers of sleep apnoea worldwide. It is a medical-grade “mouthguard” and worn in the mouth while you sleep. It is adjustable to fit and gently repositions the lower jaw slightly forward; this opens the airways and helps you stop snoring.
ApneaRX is affordable and reusable, suitable for use by any adult over the age of eighteen years. It is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee for your satisfaction.
To understand more about how ApneaRX can help you stop snoring, sleep better, and have a healthier immune system, visit our website https://apnearx.co.nz/ or call 0800 111 325.