Sleep Improves Immune System

There's a reason physicians advise rest when you're sick: your body is primed to sweep for invaders at that time. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, a critical component that helps T cells grip onto their targets is more engaged during sleep, possibly increasing their potency. At the same time, stress hormones are at their lowest levels, which cause inflammation in the body and hamper the action of pathogen-killing T cells. As you sleep, your body produces additional immunity boosters known as cytokines.


Sleep Improves Immune System

While you sleep, your body reduces stress hormones and releases infection-fighting antibodies. Here’s how to maximize sleep’s immune-boosting effects.

When you’re sick, doctors advise rest: When the body is ready to sweep for invaders,

A study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine found that sleep activated a key structure that helps T cells latch onto their targets. Stress hormones, which increase inflammation and inhibit pathogen-killing T cells, are at their lowest levels. As you sleep, your body produces more immune-boosting cytokines.

These “trigger an immune response,” says Los Angeles naturopath Christian Gonzalez. Sleep and immunity are inextricably linked.

photo by Kinga Cichewicz
photo by Kinga Cichewicz

How Much Sleep?

Sleep Improves Immune System, doesn’t it. Even if you don’t feel rested after a good night’s sleep, “Cytokine production is disrupted by lack of sleep,” Gonzalez says. As a result, you’ll be more susceptible to chronic diseases. Atherosclerosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are all caused by inflammation. (Sleep is also great for muscle growth.)

Sleep Hygiene Tips

Bill Fish, general manager of the National Sleep Foundation and a certified sleep science coach, recommends priming your immune system before bedtime. Keep your bedroom cool and dark 45 minutes before bedtime.

“Start at your toes and work your way up,” Fish advises. Above all, be reliable. “Get up and go to bed at the same time every day,” he says. That way, you’ll learn when to wake up naturally each morning. “

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