Did you know the amount and quality of sleep you get affects your immune system? Multiple studies have shown that maintaining a strong immune system goes beyond having a healthy diet, or exercising regularly. In this article, we'll cover the connection between your sleep and your immune system. But first things first, let's discuss the human immune system in detail.
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is a network of cells, organs, tissues, and substances that help the body fight infectious diseases. The primary immune function is to protect your body from the invasion of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and toxins.
How the Immune System Works
The immune system identifies and fights foreign substances that could potentially harm your body through its immune response. These foreign substances are scientifically referred to as antigens.
The body's white blood cells release Y-shaped proteins known as immunoglobulins, or antibodies, to fight the foreign substances. When released by the white blood cells, the antibodies move around the human body system, identifying and neutralizing the threat of antigens as part of its immune response.
Generally, antibodies released by the white blood cells work as 'security guards' in the human immune system. Upon their release from the white blood cells, they patrol the body, identify potential threats caused by antigens, and then eliminate them.
How Sleep Affects the Immune System
Multiple studies have concluded that sleep deprivation can significantly affect the human immune system. One study reported by the National Sleep Foundation discovered that people who don't get quality sleep or adequate sleep have a higher chance of getting sick after being exposed to antigens, such as viruses, which attack their immune system.
How Sleep Affects Immunity
Other studies also suggest that sleep deprivation can influence the speed of your body’s immune response to diseases. Here's why:
When you have proper sleep, your body releases certain proteins, known as cytokines, which help promote sleep, and boost your immune system. These proteins also influence your immune response to diseases, and promote better immune function.
For this reason, sleep deprivation affects the body by producing fewer cytokines, making it much more difficult to fight infections and diseases. The same applies when you're stressed or depressed — the body won't produce enough cytokines needed to fight antigens.
But it's also crucial to note that not all types of cytokines help prevent sleep deprivation. Inflammatory cytokines, also known as proinflammatory cytokines, make infections and diseases worse.
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that restricting sleep to 4 hours for one night led to the production of inflammatory cytokines.These cytokines also contribute to the development of heart-related and metabolic sleep disorders.
And that's not all as far as healthy sleep is concerned. Long-term sleep deprivation affects other health factors, such as increasing the risk of diabetes, blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, due to poor immune function.
Further studies have established that people who have enough sleep respond better to vaccines, and vaccines play a pivotal role in how the immune system responds to various health issues. To further understand the connection between vaccines, sleep, and immune function, let's discuss how vaccines work in the first place.
How Vaccines Work
Contrary to popular belief, vaccines don't usually fight infections. Instead, they imitate infections when introduced into the human immune system. These infections are usually so weak and powerless to the point of being unable to cause any illnesses.
The only reason vaccines are introduced into the body is to train the immune system to fight back by creating antibodies in large quantities. The human immune system also produces T-lymphocytes when a vaccine is introduced into the body.
T-lymphocytes originate from stem cells found in the bone marrow, and help with immune response. So, when a vaccine is introduced into the body, T-lymphocytes and other antibodies team up to fight the weakened infectious disease (the vaccine).
As a result of the body’s immune system response, when the vaccine loses the war against the antibodies, the human immune system is left with more than enough antibodies to fight future infections, due to its improved immune memory. In addition, given that the introduction of vaccines triggers the production of T-lymphocytes and antibodies as a natural immune response initiated by the white blood cells, their numbers keep multiplying until the vaccine is no longer considered a threat.
This further explains why some vaccines work for quite a long time; it's because the antigens triggered by the vaccines keep multiplying even after the immune system response is over, providing improved immune memory.
Another study conducted by the National Library of Medicine discovered that sleep deprivation increased the risk of allergic reactions in humans. For example, according to the study, sleep deprivation made people with peanut allergies more prone to an allergy attack, dropping the threshold of peanut exposure needed to trigger an allergy attack by 45 percent.
How the Immune System Affects Sleep
Now that you know how sleep deprivation affects the immune system, let's look at how it relates to healthy sleep.
The immune system can also affect sleep. Here's how:
When an antigen enters the human immune system, causing an infection, it alters sleep patterns by triggering a chain of reactions. This immune response explains why most sick people spend their time in bed, feeling sleepy, or actually sleeping.
The immune response to infection also triggers the NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep stage, also called deep sleep. As the name suggests, this stage of sleep slows down bodily processes, allowing the human immune system to use more energy to fight infection.
Can Good Sleep Quality Improve the Immune System?
Several studies have shown that getting quality sleep improves the human immune system. This is because when you get quality sleep, it increases your body’s immune response to vaccinations. On the flip side, sleep deprivation affects to the immune system can be the opposite.
Experts actually recommend getting quality sleep before and after vaccination to help vaccines work. As mentioned earlier, vaccines trigger the immune system to produce antibodies. The production rate significantly increases as you sleep. This is because when you fall asleep, the body uses more energy to create antibodies.
When you're awake, several parts of your body consume energy simultaneously. As a result, the antibody-production process takes longer than when you're asleep.
Tips to Achieve Quality Sleep and Strengthen the Immune System
Despite the numerous benefits quality sleep provides to the human immune system, many people still struggle with sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation occurs due to poor sleep habits, busy lifestyles, release of stress hormones, and other sleep disorders. But whether stress hormones are to blame, or any other reason for sleep deprivation, it's possible to enjoy better sleep and an improved immune system.
Here's all you have to do to strengthen your immune system, immune response, and avoid sleep deprivation.
Create a Consistent Sleep Schedule to Prevent Sleep Deprivation
The human immune system usually adapts to a certain way of life, especially when repeated multiple times. When it comes to good quality sleep, consider creating a consistent sleep schedule, and following it consistently to eliminate sleep deprivation. For best results, avoid taking naps for more than 30 minutes during the day. This could ruin your sleep routine, causing sleep deprivation as a result.
Stay Active During the Day to Improve Sleep Health
Taking part in regular physical activities during the day helps your body use up most of its energy. In return, you'll most likely feel tired and sleepy at night, limiting the chances of insomnia and sleep deprivation. However, avoid overworking your body, especially when it's almost bedtime. Being excessively tired can also cause sleep deprivation, particularly if you have body pain due to extreme physical activity.
Avoid Stimulants Before Sleep Time
Avoid drinks that increase your brain's activity, especially a few moments before bedtime. This can also cause sleep deprivation. For example, taking caffeine (coffee) before late in the evening means you'll struggle to fall asleep, because it engages your brain and nervous system, leading to hyperactivity.
If you love coffee, consider taking your last cup 6 hours before bedtime to avoid sleep deprivation. For instance, if you usually go to bed at 10 pm, you should take your last cup of coffee no later than 4 pm to avoid sleep disruptions.
Improve Your Sleeping Environment
There's so much you can do to improve your sleeping environment, and fight total sleep deprivation. Here are some examples:
- Invest in blackout curtains to create a dark environment, especially in the summer
- wear a sleep mask to protect your eyes from bright light
- play white noise to soothe you to sleep
- wear earplugs to block noise from the surrounding environment
- install a fan or AC unit to create a cool environment
Essential oils have become increasingly popular over the past few years, due to their role in promoting wellness and good sleep quality. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation, aromatherapy helps calm your nerves, creating the perfect environment to fall asleep.
Eliminate Blue Light
Statistics show that 4 out of 10 people in the United States bring their phones to bed when they sleep. As expected, most of them suffer from various sleep disorders. This habit is quite common in adolescents and young adults aged between 13 and 29.
When you use your phone or any other electronic device, such as a laptop or television at bedtime, these devices emit blue light. This light causes alertness, leading to sleep deprivation. It also prevents the production of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone.
Avoid using such devices at least one hour before bedtime to improve your sleep quality. But if you can't do so, consider buying blue light-reducing glasses or filters.
Invest in High-Quality Bedding and Sleep Accessories to Boost Your Immune System
Lack of proper bedding and sleep accessories can influence sleep quality, and affect your immune system. For example, a bad mattress or pillow could make you feel restless at night, affecting your immune system in the process. The same effect on your immune system applies if you're covered in bed sheets that are either too hot or not warm enough to guarantee a good night's sleep.
While there are many online stores where you can buy various bedding and sleep accessories to help improve sleep and boost your immune system, Latex For Less products stand out when you need good quality sleep.
All-natural products: Latex For Less bedding products are built with natural materials to keep you warm and comfortable at night, eliminating the chances of sleep deprivation. These products contain natural latex, which is recyclable, hypoallergenic, and antimicrobial.
Hand-crafted quality: Latex For Less products are hand-crafted for the ultimate sleep experience. This explains why we offer a 20-year warranty on most of our products.
Durable and affordable: Latex was considered an expensive option many years ago, because of its natural properties and durability. For this reason, latex products were mostly associated with the rich and powerful. But, thanks to manufacturers like Latex For Less, you can now purchase top-quality latex bedding at reasonable prices.
Good for the environment:Latex mattresses mostly comprise natural biodegradable materials. This means they can decompose into the environment when disposed of, unlike memory foam mattresses.
Best Latex for Less Products to Improve Your Sleep
Here are some of the best quality sleep products available at Latex For Less that could improve your sleep quality.
This natural latex mattress comprises the finest quality natural latex, wool, and cotton. It comes with two flippable sides, giving you the freedom to choose a side that feels the most comfortable for you. In addition, having a flippable mattress means you can enjoy two comfort levels in one mattress.
The Latex For Less mattress is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the leading organic textile standard. In addition, this all-natural mattress is certified by Eco-Institut and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 for safety and purity.
To enhance the comfort levels of your mattress, and guarantee a good night's sleep, the Latex For Less mattress topper is made with natural latex - the finest quality of latex you'll find anywhere in the world. In addition, this durable topper does not have synthetics, chemicals, or fillers, which disrupt your sleep patterns. Also certified by Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and Eco-Institut for safety and purity, this mattress is what you need for deep, rejuvenating sleep, and an improved immune system.
Support your head, neck, and shoulders with the Latex For Less pillow. For the ultimate comfort, the company sells two types of latex pillows: the natural solid latex pillow, and the natural shredded latex pillow.
The shredded latex pillow is light and fluffy, while the solid latex pillow is known for its buoyancy for deep sleep. Regardless of the kind of pillow you opt for among these two, you'll be assured of long nights of beautiful sleep, and a better immune system.
The latex mattress from Latex For Less works best on this foundation made from natural spruce wood. Covered by soft cotton, this durable mattress foundation comes with precisely measured slats to keep the mattress in place, and support every part of your body. The slats also provide proper edge-to-edge support, meaning you won't have to worry about the mattress slipping out of bed, or your body getting in contact with the foundation as you get on or off the bed.
Customizing your comfort levels as you sleep just got easier thanks to the Latex For Less adjustable base. This base is fully customizable; the head inclines up to 60 degrees, while the foot inclines up to 45 degrees. This adjustable base also comes with three preset positions: Zero Gravity, Flat, and Anti-Snore for optimal comfort.
An adjustable base is perfect for individuals who struggle with back pains, leg swelling, insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, asthma, arthritis, and many other conditions caused by poor sleep health. It also gives the sleeper more independence, setting their preferred position to fall asleep without constantly needing help.
The Bottom Line
Quality sleep indeed can improve your immune system. Similarly, as discussed earlier, your immune system also influences your sleep quality. Therefore, knowing what to do to improve sleep quality and immune system can make a huge difference in your physical health and overall health. That said, you also need to invest in high-quality sleep products, preferably those made from natural latex. If you still struggle to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, consider talking to your doctor about it; they may recommend a sleep study to rule out a sleep disorder, and potentially advise sleep medicine.